People as a Priority
Leadership, Culture and Climate
Leadership, culture and climate forms the first pillar to enabling our schools and Trust to be a great place to work. We believe it is the singular most important factor in influencing if people continue to wish to work within our organisation and retain a great sense of job satisfaction. Systematically developing leaders, with a significant focus on their people leadership abilities in addition to domain specific knowledge forms a crucial priority for Cheshire Academies Trust.
Leadership culture matters across all of the main elements of our People Strategy from wellbeing to career development. Collaboration and development are built into our DNA and we avoid gimmicks or tokenistic benefits to incentivise work placed satisfaction. As Simon Sinek says in his book Leaders Eat Last:
Here is a pattern that exists in the organisations that achieve the greatest success…the ones with the highest loyalty and lowest churn and the ability to weather any storm or challenge. These exceptional organisations all have cultures in which the leaders provide cover from above and the people on the ground look out for each other. That is what it means to work in a place in which leaders prioritise the wellbeing of their people and in return their people give everything they’ve got to protect and advance the wellbeing of one another and the organisation.’
People matter to us. We appreciate their hard work and how crucial they are to improving our schools and delivering from our children. Furthermore, we understand how our staff play a vital civic role, often living in the local community. We understand that talented staff expect our organisation to value them, to encourage diversity, to offer flexibility, to trust them and most of all to provide them with a clear sense of purpose to understand they truly make a difference.
Inspiring the hearts and minds of our wonderful staff remains our core purpose; our why. Our leaders endeavour to provide an environment for staff to succeed, to feel appreciated and most of all to develop a deep emotional connection to our values that drive our decision making. We want Cheshire Academies Trust to be a great place to work.
Our Trust board is ambitious for all children and young people and infused with a passion for education and a commitment to continuous school improvement that enables the best possible outcomes. CAT Governance structures are grounded in reality as defined by both high-quality objective data and a full understanding of the views and needs of our pupils/students, staff, parents, carers and local communities. Our governors and Trustees are inquisitive, independent minded people who, through conversations focussed on the key strategic issues, which are conducted with humility, good judgement, resilience and determination, hold leaders accountable for the highest educational standards and outcomes.
The Trust’s expert governance strategy is based on six key features:
- Strategic leadership that sets and champions vision, ethos and strategy.
- Accountability that drives up educational standards and financial performance.
- People with the right skills, experience, qualities and capacity.
- Structures that reinforce clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
- Compliance with statutory and contractual requirements.
- Evaluation to monitor and improve the quality and impact of governance.
Effective Delegation and Accountability
The CAT ‘Scheme of Delegation’ is the key document defining which functions have been delegated and to whom. Our Scheme of Delegation ensures that members, Trustees, Trust Board Committees, Local Governing Bodies, Executive Leaders and Headteachers are clear about who has responsibility for making which decisions in the Trust.
Our preference is to delegate the majority of responsibility to Local Governing Bodies and Headteachers so that they may flexibly stay in control of the strategic and operational management of their school. The Trust Board works collaboratively with LGBs asking them to complete risk assessments through a quality assurance framework to ensure they meet the following delegated duties that revolve around three core functions.
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff
- Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent
Governance to support and elevate children’s achievement
In CAT schools school leaders develop and manage budgets and operational systems to create a safe, high-performing learning environment that aligns with the school’s vision and values, including comprehensive systems for resource acquisition and allocation, facility management, safety and risk management, recruitment, legal and regulatory compliance, and technology.
Recruitment and Retention
Talent, Expertise and Skill with a Diverse Team
There are no great schools without great teachers. We will continue to take a rigorous approach to the recruitment of our staff. Our children deserve nothing less. We appoint staff primarily based on talent, expertise and skill because we are constantly striving to develop and grow ‘Expert Teachers’. Our recruitment practices will continue to seek out the most talented people to work within our team. However, by reflecting society at large, Cheshire Academies Trust also prioritises building a diverse workforce and that signals our understanding, acceptance and value between people and cultures. This pertains to age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability and sexual orientation, as well as experience, personality, education, skill sets and knowledge bases.
We believe the mechanisms that generate performance improvements make sense both intuitively and empirically. Any team that encompasses a broader range of skills and experiences will be better able to contend effectively with whatever challenges they encounter. Diverse teams bring a wider range of information and perspectives to the table, which results in better decision-making and better overall outcomes. They are less likely to fall prey to confirmation bias, avoiding the “echo chamber” phenomenon that can obstruct problem-solving and inhibit innovation and free thinking.
Our Trust, its board and our local governors are committed to paying our staff on nationally agreed pay scales. This includes both teachers and support staff. We will endeavour to replicate national cost of living increases and provide a performance related pay framework that is both fair and equitable to our staff.
Initial Teacher Training
Through Cheshire Teaching and Leadership Alliance, our training arm, we continue to provide a Schools Direct programme to ensure they next generation of expert teachers are ready to fill vacancies. We will continue to provide Early Career Teachers with a full programme of support from Best Practice Network linked to Cheshire Teaching Hub.
Work Life Balance and our Workload Reduction
A separation between work and home is essential. We are committed to supporting our staff find the right work life balance. Teaching is a very challenging career. It is demanding with high expectations but our Trust will continue to provide the necessary conditions to enable teachers to thrive and not become overwhelmed. That begins with the culture that leaders set for each school. Cheshire Academies Trust is committed to ensuring PPA, leadership time, training and support through coaching and mentoring. We recognise these are the staple to ensure that jobs get done.
Framed within each school’s ‘Wellbeing Commitment’ is the drive to reduce teacher workload. Our steadfast priority is to look after the mental health and physical wellbeing of our staff and that begins with a drive to reduce bureaucracy, unnecessary form filling or assessment, planning and marking workloads as well as a number of other school base initiatives with the hope that energy levels remain high and stress levels remain low. Staff have the right to enter their schools in a state ready to do their job to the best of their ability.
Opportunities for internal movement and promotion
The Trust is open to providing internal opportunities between schools and will consider internal candidates and secondments in order to provide career development and promotion. This will only be considered if the member of staff is in agreement.
CAT wellbeing charter
Alongside these Trust wide commitments, individual academies provide further support to their staff in their own unique ways.