School Improvement



To grow our community of academies in order to deliver collaborative approaches to academy improvement while providing rich creative experiences for children to enjoy and remember.


In line with National Policy and the Vision of the Cheshire Academies Trust this strategy identifies how it will work with individual academies and the collective group of academies within the Trust to ensure that every academy in the Trust provides a good quality of education for its pupils and community.


At the heart of our academy improvement strategy is a commitment to facilitate partnership working between all Trust academies, encouraging each to become self-evaluating and outward looking. We will support and challenge all academies to become self-improving academies, committed to an academy-led system, in order to promote and secure:


  • At least good levels of achievement for all children with many children achieving outstanding outcomes
  • High quality teaching for all children
  • An effective curriculum that is matched to the needs of our children in every academy
  • Removal of barriers to learning so that all children are enabled to achieve
  • Effective leadership at all levels in all levels
  • Access to high quality and targeted professional development for staff at all levels, enabling sustained and continual improvement
  • The nurture of professional talent in all spheres of academy related work, supporting the development of a talented workforce in line with future succession planning needs of the Trust
  • Expectations of and opportunities for the identification and dissemination of effective practice and engagement in academy, inter-academy, local, national and international research and development opportunities
  • High quality ITT training in order to develop a consistent and highly skilled supply of future teachers and leaders developed from Cheshire Learning and Teaching Alliance.
  • Safe Academies with fair access to learning
  • A wellbeing provision to meet the needs of all learners
  • Affordability and value for money


Beliefs & Values for our Academy Improvement Strategy

When carrying out its academy improvement role Cheshire Academies Trust will:


  • Hold in regard the varying degree of autonomy of individual Trust academies, in line with their category of need and their readiness for self-improvement, valuing their self-evaluation and taking into consideration peer- evaluation, together with Principal updates on performance and priorities.
  • Create, maintain and foster strong relationships between member Academies and the Trust through Principal and Leadership learning networks
  • Promote a academy-led system as the principle driver for constructing sustainable academy improvement, for sharing good practice and for purposes of accountability.
  • Further the equality of opportunity across the Trust as a whole, aiming to eliminate discrimination through fostered, good relationships.  All Academies are expected to deliver a strong core offer for pupils.
  • Intervene for improvement at the earliest opportunity, ensuring effective diagnosis of areas of concern.
  • Commission/provide bespoke support and intervention programmes in line with an agreed plan, to eradicate the areas of concern as a matter of urgency
  • Encourage a genuine sense of shared responsibility with all partners, including children, parents and other stakeholders, in relation to behaviour for learning, attendance and wider areas such as safeguarding
  • Take into account the full range of factors that impact on pupil progress and attainment across all phases
  • Promote effective partnership and collaboration to identify, share and further develop outstanding practice
  • Support Academies in their provision for vulnerable learners, both within and beyond the academy setting
  • Ensure every child in the trust truly matters and their needs and aspirations remain central to all the decisions made

Overview of Roles and Responsibilities                                                                                


Principals are responsible for providing high quality leadership of their academy and, as a minimum, meeting the national standards for Head teachers. Principals are also part of the senior leadership of CAT and they have collective responsibility for supporting other academies and leading activities throughout CAT.

Local Governing Boards/Academy Improvement Boards

Every CAT academy will have either a Local Governing Board and/or an Academy Improvement Board. Responsibilities of each are defined within the Trust’s Scheme of Delegation.

CAT Academy Trust Central Team and Directors                                                                               

The CAT Academy Trust has overall responsibility for ensuring each academy in the Trust provides the best possible education for all children in their care and for supporting and challenging Principals and governance in relation to their roles and responsibilities.  In order to achieve this CAT ensures that it knows its academies well, including individual strengths and priorities for development. In response to this CAT provides support and challenge for individual academy teams proportionate to our assessment of need.  CAT will be involved in:   


  • Reviewing a range of performance data collected each term in every academy which identifies areas of development for Leaders and Principals from which to take action on.
  • Monitoring the outcomes and impact of recent professional reviews, including the work of senior and middle leaders, peer reviews and external reviews, including Ofsted Inspections and interim HMI assessments
  • Supporting individual Principals to identify/agree risks or priorities for development and monitoring the impact of the action taken against agreed action plan priorities
  • Where standards are judged at being less than good, to develop CAT Raising Achievement Plans (RAPs) which identify the relevant support and intervention required for every Trust academy, ensuring appropriate support and challenge in order to achieve sustained improvement.  Where significant additional support is required to rapidly improve standards the individual academy is required allocate additional funding to cover the cost to the central Trust.
  • Agreeing and providing CPD and Leadership Development opportunities in line with national priorities or the collective priorities of Trust academies.
  • Prioritising and focusing academies to support leadership succession and the career development of current leaders and potential future leaders.
  • Monitoring the performance of CAT as a whole to identify strengths and areas for improvement across CAT, and developing and implementing CAT Improvement Plans that are designed to address weaknesses and build upon key strengths in individual academies.


The Academy Improvement Team within the CAT includes:

Chief Executive Officer

The CEO has overall responsibility for ensuring all academies in CAT continuously improve and that the overall targets for the Trust and individual Trust academies are achieved.  The CEO is responsible for ensuring the positive impact of educational initiatives through the appraisal of Principals and Central Teams. In response to this the CEO has a key responsibility to ensure that the Trust recruits, develops and retains high quality leaders who are responsible for driving academy improvement for individual academies and for the Trust as a whole.  This includes responsibility for Trust succession planning and CPD strategy and for leading the CAT Senior Leadership Team and ensuring that all other meetings are facilitated effectively.

CAT Board of Directors

The CAT Directors are responsible for holding the CEO to account in relation to its responsibilities, with particular regard to academy and Trust compliance with statutory and legislative requirements, and in ensuring standards in Trust academies improve or remain at outstanding.  The Board receives a School On A Page or SOAP which identifies attainment, progress, quality of teaching and attendance for each academy. CAT Directors have delegated clearly defined responsibilities to academies that have Local Governing Boards (LGB) in line with the Scheme of Delegated Authority (SoDA) for each individual academy. The Board of Directors retains overall responsibility for decision making in relation to CAT.  The Board undertakes its duties through Standards and Resources committees which involve Directors holding the CEO and CAT central team to account and monitoring the effectiveness of the school improvement work of Principals and their teams as well as local governors.

Internal Partners

All Trust academies are expected to fully engage and exploit the links with our internal partners in our organisations to support academy improvement needs. These are currently:

CLTA - Teaching Academy Alliance

Academies utilise CLTA’s national and regional links for CPD and research as well as working with other Academies outside of the Trust for external development.

Research and Innovation

All Trust academies have a designated ‘Research Champion’ in place who keeps abreast of good practice development. They use the learning and outcomes from this to drive research in their own academies and develop best practice through joint working with other Trusts and teaching academies.   Teachers are heavily encouraged to join the Chartered College of Teaching. CAT’s policy is to release staff to engage with this work.

Senior and Middle Leadership Training

Trust academies value the opportunities for facilitated leadership training through NPQEL, NPQML, NPQSL and NPQH national leadership programmes provided by CLTA and other external facilitators. 

External Partners                                                                                                                                   

Regional Academies Commissioner (RSC)

The RSC adjudicates applications for schools that wish to join our Trust and liaises with the CEO and Trust Directors regarding approval of new academies joining the Trust and sponsorship of academies requiring significant additional support. The RSC maintains oversight of Trust standards and liaises with the CEO regarding development of the Trust.

The Local Authority

We work with Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East Councils in relation to their central responsibility for SEND and Safeguarding in all academies. CAT has strong links with professional bodies such as CWAPH (Cheshire West Association of Primary Headteachers) in order to facilitate links and undertake academy improvement work.  

CAT Academy Trust Academy Improvement Procedures

In line with its responsibilities as identified above, the Trust is responsible for ensuring that all Trust academies fully understand the procedures that will be followed by the trust in order to bring about continual academy improvement, either through the individual academy’s own ability to self-improve or through relevant support and intervention.