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Evaluation article: Know your strengths Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Evaluation article: Getting personal  with CPD Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Evaluation article: Parent View — an update Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Evaluation article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling, gives a personal take on renewing a failing governing body having designed and built one from scratch.

Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance

Tony Powell looks at how the Framework for governance can be used to clarify the strategic direction of your school.

Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview

Tony Powell discusses how to prepare governors in advance for an inspection interview.

Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Evaluation article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Evaluation article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Published: Saturday, 18 June 2016

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Summary

  • Schools should try to join a multi-academy trust that has a proven record of academy improvement.
  • The aim of a trust should be to support its academies to improve and develop, and this should be reflected in the budgets it sets.
  • The success of a trust should be measured by the quality of its academies, as reflected in pupil outcomes and Ofsted reports.
  • A trust should have high-quality strategic leadership, sound corporate governance, skilled data management, and able finance and HR directors.

In the white paper Education Excellence Everywhere, setting out the government’s five-year strategy for education, multi-academy trusts (MATs) are favoured over local authority (LA) schools in terms of school improvement.

Schools wishing to join a MAT should look for one that is highly successful in academy improvement, where the necessary leadership and organisation are already in place, and for which improvement is the key aim.

What a successful trust looks like

A successful trust will understand from the start that it only exists to help its academies improve and develop, with the ultimate aim of helping them improve the life chances of their pupils. This will be reflected in the budgets it sets. Its success as a trust will be measured by the quality of its academies, as reflected in their outcomes, pupil destinations, Ofsted reports and surveys of stakeholder views. At the same time, staff will be treated with respect, sharing the vision of the sponsor and academy and given every opportunity for professional development.

The trust will have high-quality strategic leadership, sound corporate governance, skilled data management and able finance and HR directors. But it also has to have an academy improvement strategy implemented through colleagues with proven and varied track records as both practitioners and advisors. Most trusts are not big enough to employ centrally a full range of subject consultants. What is important is that the trust has built up a team of consultants who will commit a proportion of their time each year to the trust. They will get to know the needs of its academies and provide continuity. Above all, they will have demonstrated that they are outstanding advisors and facilitators; there is no place for the average.

Every academy aims to be the best it can, regardless of setting or circumstances; nothing else will be acceptable to the trust. There will be some principles and processes common to all the trust’s academies (e.g. basic values, data systems, curriculum principles, finance systems, support services, and so on), driven through by an independent trust board.

At the same time, each academy will be able to develop and grow in the way it believes best suits its pupils and community, and which reflects the leadership style of the headteacher and the aspirations of the governing body.

The trust will support each academy, but the type and intensity of support and intervention will be proportionate to the degree of the academy’s success. The aim is always, where possible, to monitor and challenge ideas, and to support while not trying to take over. If an academy is less effective, then intervention by the trust is more intense. Even then, though, the aim is to help the senior leadership team (SLT) to build sustainable capacity for improvement so they are then able to move the academy forward themselves.

The trust will enable the sharing of good practice between academies. It will make available national and international best practice, to support continuous professional development for academy staff in a way that meets identified needs and provides for innovation and transformation. The ultimate aim is to enhance teaching and learning and standards of attainment.

How the trust supports its academies

The trust will provide external support for its academies and work within each one to:

  • organise continuous professional development (CPD)
  • gain feedback from CPD participants
  • develop close links with universities
  • enable staff to deliver CPD
  • share good practice across academies
  • work inside academies
  • provide a best practice website
  • support leadership and management
  • support governing bodies
  • organise conferences
  • make use of new technology.

Organising CPD

The trust should organise CPD events and conferences for its academies, after full consultation with headteachers. They will be led by the very best practitioners.

Gaining feedback from CPD participants

Feedback from participants in CPD organised by the trust should be recorded carefully and monitored later in the year to assess impact.

Developing close links with universities

Trusts should develop close links with local universities. This will open the doors for school staff to work with higher education staff and to pursue qualifications and accreditation with a particular emphasis on research.

Enabling staff to deliver CPD

Staff should be given the opportunity to deliver CPD and coaching in a range of formats and to receive accreditation for this.

Sharing good practice across academies

The trust should arrange a programme of joint meetings and/or workshops for specific staff from all its academies, nationally or regionally, where good practice can be discussed and shared. This may include:

  • SENCOs
  • heads of specific subjects
  • SLT members with similar responsibilities
  • pastoral managers
  • e-learning coordinators
  • finance managers
  • heads of sixth form
  • teaching assistants
  • learning mentors, and so on.

This will enable ideas to be shared and allow professional relationships to develop between staff from the different academies. This will lead to a range of future joint activities and/or regular communication, including joint projects, moderation, exchanges, secondments and, above all, sharing schemes of learning and resources via Dropbox-type technology.

Working inside academies

The trust should have staff working in its academies monitoring, providing support, leading in-house CPD and facilitating focused or whole-academy reviews.

Providing a best practice website

The trust should provide a continuously updated best practice website which allows its academies to communicate interactively, to access the latest educational news and to view the best school improvement documentation and ideas. This will include information about national and international best practice. It will also allow publication and continuous identification of specific, verified best practice of all types in each academy, supplemented by the production of helpful case studies.

Supporting leadership and management

The trust should facilitate high-quality leadership and management training for both senior and middle leaders, including the induction and mentoring of new principals and other key staff. There will be specific events organised for NQTs and for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) students. There will be a termly headteachers’ forum and an annual conference.

Support governing bodies

Successful trusts will provide all possible support for governing bodies and individual governors, including a programme of high-quality training events.

Organising conferences

The trust should organise conferences and a range of joint projects and celebration events for pupils from its academies. There are clear educational advantages for pupils coming together from different academies and communities and having the chance to work together.

Making use of new technology

Trusts should make use of new technologies to enable staff from its academies to communicate online and through ICT-based communications systems and VLEs, thus avoiding expensive and time-consuming travel.

Further information

Toolkit

Use the following item in the Toolkit to put the ideas in the article into practice:

About the author

Tony Stephens is Academy Improvement Manager, Co-operative Academies Trust. Tony had four successful secondary headships over 20 years. His monthly Academy and School News Updates are read by tens of thousands of colleagues, who also have access to his free website with over 1100 educational documents, http://tonystephens.org.uk. To contact Tony, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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