Education is increasingly built upon collaboration. Within a challenging system where budgets are tight, school improvement services diminishing or costly, and the continuous drive for better outcomes or to maintain them working in close relationship with a group of schools is vital. Interdependence is more effective than independence.
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Rather than seeing it as a loss why not consider the advantages of collaboration and being more able to focus on teaching and learning? Central Services are not designed either to remove a sense of autonomy or exclude headteachers from participating in budget setting and day to day expenditure. Rather enable prudent use of the resources available to the Trust and meet the needs of each academy through robust discussions.
Joining a group of like-minded schools will enable you to secure and maintain your current quality provision. Through school to school support you can address those areas you identify as needing to improve to move your school to the next level.
Headteachers are totally responsible for the day to day running of their academy. They are accountable to the directors - reporting and being held to account for their termly action plan, a range of data, and issues like safeguarding, health and safety and other statutory responsibilities. They are 'Ofsted accountable'.
The Executive Headteacher provides leadership support and challenge on a regular basis to individual headteachers through conversation, reports and planning together and does not usually impose direction. Through a weekly meeting of all the headteachers issues for the Trust and each academy are considered, needs expressed and solutions found. This is the heart of the Trust's collaboration and it is here that the strategic way forward is often developed on a range concerns, innovative practice and the true of the Trust.
Directors will meet as a Board with headteachers and their deputies on a termly basis for a 'governance meeting'. A termly monitoring plan charges individual directors with questions against each academy's termly plan and they will visit by arrangement with the headteacher and report to the Board. Normally directors will attend some events.
At least annually directors and academy senior leaders meet for a Leadership Day to consider together the strategic way forward and practical implications for the Trust/Academies. A whole Trust 'conference is also held annually providing amongst other things a way of profiling the directors.
Directors are always available to communicate with academy leaders and staff when necessary.
The school day finishes at 1.30pm on a Friday. This provides opportunity for CPD (at least once a month) in the afternoon and contributes to staff wellbeing by giving them flexibility. The October half term is also two weeks. Neither the amount of contact time or CPD requirements are reduced by this plan.
This approach will not be imposed on a school joining SEAT, though it is anticipated that the benefits and need to engage with the CPD afternoons will mean it is likely to happen through a transition period.
All the normal CPD is available subject to budget constraints. However the LEADERSHIP ACADEMY enables bespoke and specific to each member of staff CPD to occur throughout the school year. Aspiring leaders are enabled to progress in their career with fully or part funded access to Middle Leadership courses and the NPQH. SEAT is serious about developing staff.
Neither is a requirement. It may be advantageous to discuss a change or adaptation of the name and/or brand but nothing will be imposed and will be part of ongoing discussions. Parents need not be concerned about additional costs.
Over a transition period it is preferable that the branding eg. signage, website etc. of the academy comes in line with the other academies. Again this is not imposed but achieved through collaboration.
SEAT is committed to the National Teachers Pay and Conditions . All staff will go through a process known a TUPE prior to conversion guaranteeing this. Where there is any possibility (not a decision) of a staffing restructure post conversion this will be included in the TUPE process.
SEAT is passionate about staff needs and aware of recruitment and retention issues and is committed to providing the best possible for all staff. This past year turbulence has been minimal though a few staff have moved to another Trust school, as the contracts provide, but always by agreement and never imposed.
By contributing to the Trust, staff will find they develop in their professional skills. By experiencing the support of the Executive Headteacher and other staff from across the Trust school improvement will continue or make more raid progress (dependent upon the starting point). This will impact children in providing quality first teaching and learning.
Leadership and innovation bring about change over time - always determined about what will make a better provision for children. Interaction and compotetions with children from the other Trust schools is developing.
From the day of conversion staff will be employed by South Essex Academy Trust and all the benefits available to them including being part of the Leadership Academy. They should only notice significant differences by relating to peers across the Trust eg. subject leaders with the same interest. This is of particular but not exclusively valuable to single form entry schools.
Process, paperwork and some practical arrangements may change relatively quickly. It is vital for a clear understanding by leaders and directors that data, termly action plans etc. adopt of the Trust approach for example. There will be a lot of support toward this provided.
There will be a bespoke agreed transition process for finance and HR to ensure a smooth and effective outcome. There will always be a high level of support given to office staff.