Joining the Trust

Whilst joining a multi academy trust is a significant step, joining the right Trust is absolutely vital.    The benefits of collaborative working and resource sharing provide security in an ever changing educational landscape and can secure the long-term success of your school.  Everyone has a vital part to play.

We know that each school will be different and we value this diversity.  We also know that schools can be at different points in their journey to be even better.  Primarily, if your values match ours and you believe that every child deserves to go to a good school, then you may want to get in touch to find out more about us.

What can you expect from us?

We will:

  • have high expectations
  • work with integrity
  • work with honesty
  • operate selflessly in the public interest
  • be objective
  • be accountable
  • be open
  • lead by example
  • manage the academy conversion process 
  • support a school's individual identity and ethos
  • develop high performing teams
  • challenge mediocrity
  • provide career development across the Trust in order to recruit and retain the best

What can we expect from you?

  • To share the values and principles of the Trust
  • To uphold the ethos of the Trust 
  • To commit to securing equity 
  • To fully engage in professional development for the benefit of all
  • To contribute to the support and challenge of all Trust employees
  • To have high expectations
  • To work with integrity
  • To work with honesty
  • To operate selflessly in the public interest
  • To be objective
  • To be accountable
  • To be open
  • To lead by example


  • Stability in a fast changing educational landscape
  • Access to shared services and economies of scale (HR, finance, IT, site, facilities, risk)
  • Free places on our OLEVI programmes (OTP, ITP, OTAP, PoC, OLE)
  • Access to Trust wide professional development opportunities
  • Access to Trust leadership development programmes
  • PR and marketing
  • Curriculum design and development
  • Trust wide NQT and RQT programmes 
  • Access to subject specialists
  • SEND expertise with bespoke packages available
  • Quality assurance
  • Pupil Premium advice and guidance
  • Website presence
  • Support with data driven improvement and MIS
  • PR and marketing
  • Recruitment
  • Capital planning applications
  • Headteacher appraisal
  • Headteacher coaching
  • Trust wide policies
  • Academy conversion
  • Governance training and development
  • Support with compliance (website, safeguarding, policy)


The Process

Stage 1 Initial Conversations

Values, vision, culture, ethos - a professional conversation about what potential collaboration could look like.


Stage 2 Due Diligence

Purpose of due diligence

Due diligence is the process by which the parties gather information about each other to ensure the integration process proceeds smoothly. In particular, it is used to identify risks, liabilities, cultural differences and practical issues that may cause difficulties later. The key objectives are:

  • To test the strategic rationale for the tie-up: will it improve the life chances and attainment of pupils and is it really financially and operationally attractive for both sides? What are the prospects for the future? Do the partners have the capacity and capabilities to pull it off?
  • To inform discussions, identify liabilities and make sure the legal documents pick up risks and allocate them appropriately by using warranties and indemnities (legal clauses which require one party to compensate the other if a risk materialises and costs are thereby incurred). The general rule is that liabilities whose origin is pre-transfer belong to the transferor (local authority and/or diocesan trustees), and those whose origin is post transfer belong to the transferee (the MAT).
  • To lay the foundations of the future integrated organisation and build its culture. The process should combine an ‘outside in’ approach with an ‘inside out’ approach to understand the schools’ relative position in the local education system, as well as understanding the internal capabilities, strengths and weaknesses.
  • To examine broader issues of culture, systems and processes, management structures, future opportunities and business plans.


Some typical due diligence questions:


 Sources of evidence


  • Has the school had to set a budget deficit in the past five years?
  • Have the school had to make staff reductions in the past five years to balance the budget?
  • Does the school have a private finance initiative (PFI) agreement on the buildings/assets of the school/academy? If so:
  • What are these?
  • How do they impact the finances of the school?
  • What is the duration of the agreement?
  • What are the school’s budget out-turn projections for this financial year?
  • What are your budget projections for the next two years?
  • Does the school have additional income streams e.g. lettings, foundations etc., which enable the school to balance the budget?
  • Budget statements for current year and past five years
  • Staffing lists/structures for past five years
  • PFI agreement – if in place
  • Forward planning budget projections



 Sources of evidence

  • Can the school show evidence of strong governance, such as:
    • Challenge?
    • Support?
    • Involvement?
  • How does the structure of the school:
    • Support students academically?
    • Utilize resources effectively?
    • Support students with pastoral care/safeguarding?
  • Governance minutes of meetings
  • Link governor reports


Sources of evidence

  • What evidence can the school show of raising performance?
  • Has the school moved Ofsted grades in the past five years?
  • What are the significant groups in the school and how are they doing? 
  • Quality of education
  • Ofsted reports
  • School performance data
  • School review by Trust Team



Sources of evidence

  • Are the vision and values of this school compatible with those of the Trust?
  • Are stakeholders happy with the provision?
  • Are there any potential reputational issues which the school is aware of?
  • Vision document of the school
  • School website
  • Media search


Sources of evidence

  • Are there any complaints/appeals currently pending:
    • From the community?
    • From staff?
    • From senior staff?
    • From governors?
  • Are there any current partnerships or legal agreements that the school has which might be affected by this partnership, such as a faith status or association with another MAT?
  • What major contracts does the school have with services/suppliers, e.g. cleaning, grounds maintenance, catering? When are these due for renewal?



And, of course,  you will have questions for us!  


So you want to join an academy trust?  Make sure you ask these 7 questions first

Schools Week (2016)

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT suggests these:

Many schools will be thinking about joining a trust or federation. This is probably a sensible response to rising costs, falling budgets, diminishing services and ever-more demanding accountability. But groups of schools come in all shapes and sizes. We have to look behind the label and discover what is really going on. These sorts of decisions are hard to undo and success is often governed by intangible factors such as values and culture – there will be groups in which you will thrive and achieve more than you thought possible alone; and there will be groups that suck the joy out of leadership. How do you tell the difference?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself. Or, even better, ask them.

What truly gets them out of bed in the morning?

This is tricky. The aim is to discover their real values but, if you ask them outright, you’ll get the usual motherhood and apple pie about “making a difference”. The best way to discover underlying values is to let them speak at length and make a count of what is and isn’t mentioned. Is it all about finance or growth and little about children? Another good route is to find out about the chief executive’s own education experience. Their views on this often reveal a great deal about their motivation.

Find out about the CEO’s own education experience

How do they handle conflict?

The early days of a trust are full of shared aspirations and consensus. But you will disagree at some point. If there is disagreement about direction, how is this handled?

Explore what will happen if a school within the trust is under-performing – how will this be tackled and what sanctions lie at the end? Be as wary of groups with weak accountability and no conflict resolution as you would be of those with punitive accountability.

What value does the group bring to the individual schools?

This is the obvious one: why would your school be better off inside the group rather than going it alone. What could you do with them that you can’t do now? Don’t get hung up on the management fee – a more important question is what you get for the money. A management fee that is too small will imply a group that can add little value to what you do already.

Who will they not work with and why?

A great trust has a tight vision and a clear idea about how it can help. It finds a niche where its values, skills and procedures work best. One of the best ways to unearth this is to explore their limits – what wouldn’t they do? Who do they say no to, and why? A group that has never turned down a school or project may be a group with a dangerously unfocused sense of its strengths.

How big do they plan to get?

You want to be part of a group that manages its growth carefully and sustainably – excessive or poorly planned growth is a major cause of problems for groups of schools. Look not only for overall size but geographical spread, balance of strong and weak performance, clear specialisation and flexible structures. On the last point, at what stage will the existing governance stop working and the group need to invent new layers?

What happens when the leader leaves?

Many groups of schools are driven by the energy and vision of their founder. Is this the case in the trust you are considering? If so, how long will he or she be around and how much capacity has he or she built around them? Would it all fall apart in their absence?

What is shared and what is delegated?

How much freedom will you as a leader really have, and how much do you actually want? Total freedom suggests that the group is just symbolic, but presumably you didn’t go into the job to be demoted into middle management, either. This is also a question that it is hard to get honest answers to. Clear answers should help you determine whether the group is sustainable and constructive and, more importantly, whether the culture of the group matches your own values


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