We have tried to answer as many questions that may often be asked. However, if you have another please do contact us.

School Improvement

Q: How do you raise school standards?

A: Our goal is to create self-sustaining and self-regulating schools that support each other. We work with the school identifying the key issues through a ‘Needs Analysis’ and then support interventions through a range of internal and external advisers including staff from partner schools. We provide excellent training, support for our teaching and learning policy and opportunities for research and development.

Q: Will the Trust impose a curriculum?

No, the Trust does not favour a particular curriculum and recognises that what is taught is a reflection of individual schools vision and values. However, the Trust does ensure that the curriculum meets 4 principles: it maximises outcomes, ensures progression, is broad and balanced and offers some degree of choice. The Trust also believes test enrichment and pupil leadership are essential elements of the broader curriculum.

Q: What support for leadership does the Trust give?

A great deal. Senior and middle leaders are supported through a programme of coaching and mentoring, training and career development opportunities. The Trust supports and challenges all its leaders.

Q: How does the Trust retain staff?

By building strong collaborative cultures. The Trust also offers opportunities to work across Trust schools, to engage with research and development and bespoke training.

Q: What is the Trusts top priority?

To ensure that all schools are good or better by summer 2016.

Q: Will staff be compelled to work at other Trust schools?

No, the Trust provides opportunities for staff to be seconded, shadow or work in other schools for short or longer periods of time but only if they wish to do so and with support of their Head.

Q: Are there opportunities to share jobs across schools?

Yes, but only if the individual member of staff and school head teacher supports it. One of the key methods of improving teaching and learning is through joint deployment of outstanding staff, shadowing and appointment of leading practitioners and specialist leaders of education.

Q: Would existing staff be TUPED across to the Trust?

Yes, staff are protected by TUPE for as long as they remain at the school

Q: Would the Trust make any changes to national pay and conditions?

No. The Trust will honour the national teachers’ pay and conditions and pensions arrangements for as long as they continue to exist. We will also ensure the LGBS arrangements stay in place for support staff and their pay and conditions are preserved. We will do all we can to retain an reward high quality staff.

Q: Will the school be able to keep its own logo and brand?

Yes, the Trust does not insist on a rebranding, although for sponsored academies the DfE does require a change in name as a symbol of transformation.

Q: Can the school retain its existing structure?

Yes, the Trust has no preferred staffing structure but will want to work with the school to ensure the structure is delivering the highest outcomes for the best value.

Q: Will the school retain its current leadership?

As with all staff Head teachers are Part of the TUPE process.

Q: How much say will the school have in its future?

A great deal. The Trust is there to support the school to achieve its own vision. However, the Trust will intervene to ensure teaching and learning, leadership and achievement are successful.

Q: Who takes decisions in the Trust?

Most operational and strategic decisions are taken by the schools and their governing bodies. The Trust sets out the framework and principles by which schools should work in relation to its vision, values and 7 pillars. How schools apply these principles is largely down to them. However, if aspects of a school are not working then the Trust will intervene and take on the responsibility.

Q: Is the Trust corporate in its approach?

To the extent that it wants all its schools to succeed, develop outstanding approaches to teaching and learning and embrace the Trust vision and values. Its focus is more on the processes especially around learning and care, not on the outward signs or signals. It wants its schools to manifest their commitment to the brand through outstanding achievement, leadership and teaching.

Q: What will happen to the governors?

Governors will transfer across in a similar way to the staff. However, the Trust is committed to ensuring that governors are effective, challenge the school leadership and support the development of appropriate plans. For these reasons governors we review and audit governing body skills and support through training.

Q: What is it like to be a Trust Governor?

Local governing bodies will retain much of their existing function but could be smaller and more focused on supporting and challenging teaching and learning and achievement. At least one governor will be designated from the Trust. If the school is judged at risk in relation to a failing Ofsted, then the Trust may exercise its right to reconstitute the governing body and appoint the majority of its members to ensure that weaknesses can be addressed quickly.

Q: Would the governing body lose powers?

It will retain many of the powers it had as an LA school including for admissions and performance management of the head teacher. However, the Trust will set the framework for its schools and intervene if there are financial, achievement or safety concerns. The Trust relationship with schools document sets out the parameters of powers.

Q: Does becoming and academy change our relationship with the LA?

Yes, the LA is no longer directly responsible for the schools performance and has significantly reduced powers of intervention. However, our Trust works closely with the LA; our heads continue to attend meetings, we employ some LA consultants and involve the LA in Head teacher performance management.

Q: Would pupils be selected?

No. We operate a non-selective admissions policy for all our acadmies. These are the same as the admissions policies for local authority schools that they replace.

Q: What percentage of the budget would the Trust retain?

In the range of 2%-3.5% of the General Annual Grant. The cost is low because the Trust is local, enabling services to be shared. The Trust does not believe in developing a large bureaucracy and uses the income to support teaching and learning, leadership and governance development across its schools. Schools also benefit from quality back room office functions and they save money through procurement and, if they wish, deployment of their staff across other schools.

Q: How will the Trust support building and site improvements?

The Trust has an annual capital improvement grant to support all its schools. A plan is agreed by head teachers around the priorities. The Trust has also been very successful in bidding for additional capital funding. Schools retain their own site and care taking capacity.

Q: Will the school have to change their providers of key services?

No, although as the school will be paying for some key back office services like HR, Finance support and payroll it would make sense. The Trust saves schools money through an effective approach to procurement, although a number of services are still in the hands of schools. For example, the Trust has an excellent IT service, but it is up to schools to decide if they wish to retain their own provider.

Q: How far are systems and processes centralised?

The Trust believes in creating self- sustaining schools and that means giving as much autonomy as possible to individual schools. Services are centralised when economies of scale can be made or when they help improve the quality of provision.

Q: Does the Trust make a profit?

No. That is not allowed by law and trusts are subject to scrutiny through audit and their funding agreement with the DfE.

Q: Would the school receive legal support?

Yes. We have helped many schools through the conversion process and our partner legal advisers have an excellent track record. There will be no cost to the school for this work.

Q: How will the project be managed?

The Trust will provide a Project manager to carry out most of the work leaving the school to focus on teaching and learning. The process will not be a significant additional burden.

Q: How will the consultation be managed?

The Trust has strong experience in this area and will ensure all stakeholders are fully engaged. If the school is changing its logo, uniform and branding then we would ensure that the parents and pupils are fully involved.

Q: What sort of support will the finance manager receive?

A great deal as this is the area where the learning curve can be the steepest. There are new systems and approaches to understand but the Trust has an experienced team of finance managers to support the school