This model has been adapted from the Confederation of School Trust’s engagement model to support school leaders and governing bodies considering joining our Trust. It provides estimated guidelines in terms of time frames which can be elongated or condensed depending on the school’s circumstances or the Trust’s growth plan.
The Trust can support schools with each stage of the model in terms of stakeholder engagement and an understanding of what due diligence might entail. The Trust’s own formal due diligence documentation provides a robust risk assessment of all aspects of a school including:
- Education performance and the quality of teaching and learning
- The curriculum
- Health and Safety
- Buildings and estates
- Before and after school provision
These aspects of school will be discussed alongside and in partnership with the CFOO and CEO.
Phase 1: Assessment of value
Phase 2: Authorise and soft Due Diligence:
We recommend that the school’s leadership and Governing Body ensure they can articulate why their school will benefit from joining a Multi-Academy Trust.
It is important schools consider first what their quality criteria will be to assess their cultural alignment with a number of Trusts.
To progress interest further, the school might undertake desktop reviews of known Trusts, including websites, review of RWM outcomes via DfE Trust level data, and schemes of delegation. School Leaders complete enquiry forms or calls to Multi-Academy Trusts and an initial, no obligation meeting of senior representation is arranged.
Time frame: 4 weeks
Schools are likely to do their assessment of value on a number of Trusts, mindful of the regional growth strategy following the White Paper. The school and Trust identify the key people to coordinate contact and meetings are arranged to share key plans by both parties. School visits are arranged.
A preferred Trust would need to be identified following the review by the school. School visits would be planned.
Schools may plan a working model for collaboration which aligns with the Trusts Growth Strategy. A school and Trust can enter into an informal agreement to work together known as a Trust Partnership for 12-18 months. This partnership agreement will usually involve an SLA and a focus on professional development. This does not require agreement from the DfE, although they will need to be informed via the Trust.
Time frame: 2-3 months
Phase 3: Formal Due Diligence
Phase 4: Agreement
When a Governing Body and school leadership are both able and willing to progress to undertaking Due Diligence, a memorandum of understanding is prepared and agreed between the school and Trust stating how the process of joining the Multi-Academy Trust is to be progressed and the commitments required. The Trust can then work with the school to understand in detail the school’s culture and community by gathering information on how the school is led, its teaching and learning approach and also its business management. This process constitutes formal due diligence and is fully reciprocal - but it is undertaken by a school to establish and manage both risk and benefits of joining the Trust.
There is no funding for the due diligence process at this stage. It is usually undertaken by the Headteacher and School Business Manager or an external adviser at cost.
NB: the stage of public consultation can be started to run alongside the process of due diligence.
This phase moves from discussion to preparing formal agreements. It is Governors who take the decision to progress with public consultation. Stakeholders of the school will need to be fully involved: parents, staff, wider community, Local Authority, Trade Unions.
The statutory consultation period lasts 4-6 weeks.
Time Frame: 3-4 months
The Governors hold an extraordinary meeting to review all responses to the statutory consultation and a formal declaration is made at Governors to submit an Academy Order application. This allows the submission of an Academy Application to approve the school joining a Trust. Each school will be assigned a DfE officer from the Regional Directors team. The Governors will inform all their stakeholders of the outcome of the consultation.
At this point, the Regional Director and Advisory Board will decide upon authorisation of the Order. It can take several weeks for an application order to be quality assured by DfE officers in the regional teams, who then submit it to the Advisory Board.
Schools will receive a conversion grant which should cover the legal costs of conversion.
Time Frame: 2-4 months
Phase 5: Contracting
Phase 6: Embedding
This phase allows senior staff from a Trust, the Local Authority, Trade Unions and the school to map in detail how the functions and processes in the school will move from the LA and become aligned with the Multi-Academy Trust.
TUPE is a statutory process and starts – this lasts 90 days and is a process led by the Local Authority, with the Trust, TU’s and staff to ensure all contractual details are managed and if there needs to be any local agreements.
Any contractual and legal obligations are transferred from the school to the Trust and a formal date for joining the Multi-Academy Trust is set.
Time Frame: 3-4 months
An action plan is created between the school and Trust to build alignment and consistency and enable personnel to share processes, culture, professional development and values over time.
This is embedded in the Trusts quality assurance process and continuous professional development offer.
There are many reasons to consider joining Cheshire Academies Trust and if you wish to find out more, please get in touch.
Our offer to schools revolves around the following:
- A deep sense formal collaboration with like-minded people
- Continued autonomy in almost all aspects of the school's daily work
- Financial systems and frameworks to better manage budgets and provide the resources leaders require
- All round better services for HR, legal, payroll and service level agreements
- A school transformation offer that build the capacity for schools to sustain improvement themselves
- A professional development offer for leaders, teachers and support staff that nutures talent and builds confidence
- Governance support and collaboration. NGA learning link, professional clerking and training
These are to name but a few of the many advantages schools can benefit from. We are open and transparent with our potential partners because it is important to find the right Trust with the right ethos and values. We appreciate that all schools will bring significant strengths and skills to the table. That is one of the reasons we wish to grow so that we learn from others.
We take great care of our staff...
The purpose of Cheshire Academies Trust is to inspire hearts and minds through care, collaboration and creativity. We believe coming to work in our schools should be a joy, where staff find real job satisfaction and make a genuine difference. It is incumbent upon governors and leaders across our Trust to create the conditions for success so that children receive a great education, as a consequence of providing teachers and leaders the environment they require.
Our schools are unique. We believe in standardisation only when it provides obvious real world benefits or aligns to government and regulatory guidance. We consult widely on our policies because we care what our staff and leaders believe is right for their schools. What is right for one community will not be the same for another. We pride ourselves on our focus on equality seeking to build unity because we appreciate teamwork drives effective collaboration, which in turn promotes creativity and innovation.
We believe in people and not metrics. The health and mental wellbeing of our staff is a carefully considered aspect of our decision making at all levels and we have managed workloads throughout the pandemic so that staff can continue to come to work with the energy to inspire.
Across our Trust we ask our staff how we are doing and what impact our work has on their roles. Their feedback is overwhelming positive. They tell us they feel looked after and understand our policies and practice. As part of our Trust, staff would join as equals and have access to collaborate with all of our talented staff, who collectively have passion to provide the very best educational experiences. Leaders will be empowered to do what they believe is best for their schools, teachers and communities. Teachers will be offered the best training and knowledge so they may thrive within their classrooms. Fundamentally we believe that being part of a family of schools has afforded our staff opportunities across a wide spectrum of areas that has a real world positive impact on the learning experiences children receive.
We open the doors to collaboration across schools...
Strong collaboration, with shared accountability, leads to better progress and attainment for our pupils and support our academies to meet rising expectations.
- School leaders and teachers network to share thinking, planning, best practice, learning from each other and tackling challenges together
- Governors coming together to share strategic thinking, to combine skills and to support each other during challenging times
- Pupils within CAT work together
- Support staff come together to share expertise and challenges
- Opportunities for parent involvement are shared and supported more effectively
We believe we can improve schools together...
In line with the vision of the Cheshire Academies Trust this strategy identifies how it will work with individual academies and the collective group of academies that the Trust provides a good quality of education for its pupils and the communities they serve.
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.
- A wellbeing provision to meet the needs of all learners
- Affordability and value for money
We wish to keep our best staff and grow our own talent...
Sharing approaches to recruitment and retention across our Trust, enables our academies to find different and flexible solutions to recruitment challenges, and where appropriate opportunities to share leaders, teachers and other staff. CAT invests in a collaboration fund that enables a programme of development that supports all staff. CAT school leaders have wider career progression opportunities and CAT is able to ‘grow its own’ future leaders through talent management programmes. Staff are given the opportunity to undertake secondments and experience new roles and responsibilities across the Trust.
We believe in offering the best training to our teams...
Shared professional development at all levels, including leadership development programmes, whether led by staff from one of the Trust’s academies or an external organisation. Our collaboration hubs from a teacher led structure to offer support and drive improvement across schools.
Economies of scale...
With financial weight comes better purchasing power. The economies of scale and collective purchasing made possible within our Trust help our academies cope better with reducing budgets.
Our financial frameworks provide School Business Managers efficient and effective management of money...
The Trust supports its academies to fulfil the statutory financial and reporting requirements that come with academisation. Academy Business Managers work within a clearly defined team structure that is led by our Chief Finance and Operations Officier (CFOO), to ensure the financial data that is provided to SLT’s and LGB’s is of a high quality and supports decision making. We use the Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning (ICFP) model to ensure each academy’s budget forecast effectively supports their development plans. Academy Business Managers provide internal financial data on a half termly basis and report to LGB’s each term. The Trust will meet with its academies on a biennial basis to undertake a financial review. In addition to providing services to its academies the central Trust fulfils a compliance and corporate function to ensure the Trust meets statutory reporting requirements and deadlines.
Your money is your own...
Each academy has a separate bank account and all their funds are paid into and out of this account. There is no pooling or transfer of funds between academy accounts and the academy has access to their account at all times.
Your carry forwards are your own...
Each academy carries forward any surplus/deficit into the next year. LGBs under the scheme of delegation review and approve budgets/expenditure.
We provide services centrally so leaders and SBMs can make decisions locally...
- Managed payroll provision
- Pension fund administration (teachers pensions and LGPS)
- Online budgeting and finance systems that provide real time data
- Banking and credit card provision
- Day-to-day financial support from the CAT Finance Manager
- Annual internal compliance audit (DfE requirement)
- Annual external audit and production of annual accounts (DfE requirement)
- Oversee capital bids (over £2m in additional funding (CIF) secured for CAT academies since 2014)
Other ‘non financial’ elements
- HR management and administration support (contracts and contract changes)
- support with organisational change management,
- provision of clerking services/governance professional
- Data Protection Officer
- In-house catering support
Come and chat to see what we do...
We understand that joining a trust is a big decision.
Before joining, there are many things to consider to ensure your school gains maximum benefit and becomes part of a school trust whose vision and values align with your school's.
Research has shown the considerable benefits of being part of a school trust and greater collaboration, improved outcomes for students, and enhanced continuous professional learning are just a few reasons schools choose to join.
Our family of schools have been developed from converters schools and we offer extensive support to ensure a smooth transition.
Below, you will find some helpful information that tells you more about school trusts, things to consider before joining, and an overview of the process involved. Further information can be found on the Confederation of School Trusts website.