Why join The Priory School Multi Academy Trust?
- We want all children to be in a great school. The main purpose of the Trust’s work is to provide that opportunity for all children across the Trust.
- A range of fully comprehensive schools, school experiences and nature of students –this has broadened the experience of our MAT, and has already enabled best practice to be shared for common and individual contexts.
- A school improvement record, established through external quality assurance. Outcomes at KS4, KS2 and KS1 have already improved through the mutual support and intervention between schools; the number of students in the Trust continue to grow due to more parents/carers than ever showing interest in the Trust schools.
- A collaborative and collegiate approach defines the work of the school leaders. School leaders share ideas, innovation and best practice to the benefit of all and as such there is benefit for students, staff and parents/carers. All schools work towards improvement of themselves and others in the Trust.
- A scheme of delegation enables individual school culture and identity to thrive, whilst enabling common ground to be established where required.
- We have already created a talent management and succession planning framework, focused on developing career structures and staff professional development opportunities in order to enable us to recruit, develop and retain excellent staff and future school leaders.
- The experience of our Teaching School Alliance has enabled an outward-facing approach to school improvement, providing excellent opportunities for staff to work within and outside the Trust and to bring back best practice to all schools in the Trust.
- Each school retains its unique identity and builds on its own ethos and values, drawing where relevant and where required on other schools, whilst reflecting the values of the Trust in their work.
- An established strategy and trust development plan, which all schools work towards in terms of the shape and scope of the Trust.
- An established reporting system for Governors, using a data dashboard that enables a standardised reporting process, with easily accessible and benchmarked data, which ensures clear accountability.
- A rigorous framework of governance which focuses on the Link Governor role and empowers individual Governors to challenge and support. It also enables Governors to share their own practice across Local Governing Bodies which extends the influence of strong governance.
- Excellent links with the Local Authority, that actively supports our work. Links with external agencies extends to the diocese, the Regional Schools Commissioners and Ofsted.
- We have a mutually supportive structure to safeguard schools for the future by developing robust academy and Trust governance arrangements to ensure a high quality education is maintained for every child
- There is comprehensive risk management at school and trust level
The day-to-day operations
- One of the cornerstones of our Trust is an established, robust finance system (through both the people and process) which has earned praise from auditors due to strong financial expertise and which enables financial control, transparent budgeting and confident planning.
- An appropriately staffed MAT central office provides financial, Human Resource, insurance, ICT and legal services to schools within the Trust.
- Financial sensitivity awareness has enabled a degree of resilience in the face of external challenges.
- Economies of scale through strong finance and IT have been established in order to free up time for improving teaching, personal development, leadership and outcomes for students
Frequently asked Questions
How well established is the Trust?
The Priory School Trust was established in 2016, with The Priory School as a sponsoring academy. The catalyst for this was a request by the Local Authority School Improvement and Commissioning Officer to act as a sponsoring academy for St Martins 3-16 school (who became a sponsored academy on 1/9/2016). Coleham School joined the Trust on 1/9/2017. Since its formation, we have worked on establishing the operational systems and processes of governance, with a continual focus on mutual school improvement, to the benefit of our students.
Who are the current schools within the MAT?
The Priory School (11-16), St Martin’s School (3-16) and Coleham School (4-11).
What are the arrangements to allow sharing of best practice?
The Heads meet regularly to share ideas and the accountability structure ensures all schools give and receive support. Where specific support is defined, the trust deploys its best resources and the operational systems ensure there is impact.
How is the Trust Governed?
There is a Members Board, which appoints the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees establishes and oversees the strategy of the Trust, holds the Executive Principal and Finance Director to account and ensures financial probity of the Trust finances (which includes all schools’ budgets). At school level, the emphasis is to delegate to the Local Governing Body, in order to provide as much local governance to each academy as possible, particularly where schools are judged to be Good or Outstanding. The aim is to work in partnership with the schools, the Heads and Local Governing Bodies to ensure all schools work towards being Outstanding. The new Link Governor role provides an excellent focus, a strong sense of empowerment and defines the level of accountability for our schools’ leaders.
What is the Financial Model?
Mindful of challenging school budgets and with evidence of centralisation already creating some savings across three schools, we presently have a top slice of 4 ½%; this covers payroll and contracts, staff insurance (eg Maternity), HR support, Employers’ and Public Liability insurance, IT support, financial services, audit, H&S support and school improvement service costs. The financial model is based on current school expenditure and reflects current LA top slicing. The ‘top slice’ also supports the establishment of a small central team including a Finance Director and some administrative support and a contribution to the salary cost of the Executive Principal.
How is academy performance monitored?
The data dashboard is presented to Local Governing Bodies (LGB) and a summarised version is scrutinised by the Board of Trustees. Each Head and LGB is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the students in their school. The Executive Principal (EP) supports and challenges each Headteacher to ensure individual school improvement targets are achieved.
The EP meets regularly with the academy Headteachers to review academy performance, by:-
- scrutinising termly data, including attainment and progress for every year group (and more frequently if academy results are below national levels);
- reviewing work scrutiny and monitoring records of the quality of teaching and learning – this is to both moderate the data outcomes and to support potential collaboration;
- monitoring of progress against School Development Plan priorities.
How does the MAT mitigate against risks?
A Risk Register is monitored by the Board of Trustees and Executive Principal in order to identify, assess and mitigate against potential risks to the MAT. This forms one of the strands for a MAT action plan, in order to minimise any potential future risks.