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Academy Improvement

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Academy Improvement




The Directors are totally committed to the on-going improvement of all the academies in the Trust, regardless of where they are on their journey.  Some will be making the journey from a very challenging place to becoming a good school, others will be looking to make the move to outstanding.  Those who are outstanding will be looking to create a sustainable legacy and to share their learning with others across the system.  Our Academy Improvement Framework is designed to meet each academy wherever they are on their journey, providing the necessary challenge and support to help them in achieving the very best they can for their children.  It is intended to be developmental and supportive whilst at the same time providing the necessary rigour and challenge that will effect change as required.


Academy Improvement Director


The Trust employs an Academy Improvement Director (AID).  Each of our academies is entitled to six days of improvement support provided or facilitated by our AID.  These days provide our academies with developmental monitoring and support whilst also providing the rigour and challenge required to effect further improvement.  Included within these days are three Academy Improvement Meetings (AIM) – further detail in respect of these meetings is shown below. AID input is available to all schools as part of the core service offered by the Trust to its academies.  The use of the six days is flexible and provides our academies with the opportunity to gain the maximum benefit from these sessions.


The AID works closely with Headteachers and other senior leaders in the academies, to involve them in evaluation work across and between academies and to help them develop their skillset.  We fully support the development and growth of peer to peer evaluation and support.


The AID is the conduit for information to the Chief Executive to report on progress and areas for on-going development.  The AID also provides clear information to the Board regarding the performance of the academies.  Our AID is a suitably qualified person with significant experience of school leadership, the Church school context, school-to-school support and inspection.


We recognise that certain pieces of work may require careful commissioning in order to ensure that expert professionals are engaged to match skill to need.  For example, work within a particular Key Stage or phase, or in an area of the curriculum or provision. Where that is the case, the AID will facilitate, in close conjunction with the academy, the delivery of appropriate support from an alternative provider.  This will always be in close consultation with each academy.


As we develop our work with secondary schools, we recognise the need for flexible ways of delivering improvement work and the need to bring in additional capacity to our monitoring and support visits.  As well as utilising expertise from within the Trust, including primary practitioners, we would engage expert practitioners from Teaching Schools and other schools, as well as independent consultants where appropriate to provide sufficient support, focused on the needs of the academy.  We would actively promote strong partnerships with other secondary providers where this would promote improvement, dependent upon the prevailing circumstances at any given time.  Again, the AID would oversee the facilitation of this.  We will draw on our experience of developing our successful improvement model and commission outstanding support to meet the needs of the school.  We are already developing this model further through discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner and with other providers in respect of this.



Academy Development Days


Additional development days are available from the AID to provide on-going support, arising from the Academy Improvement Meetings.  The AID may also broker any additional improvement support required from other Headteachers and senior leaders within the Trust, Teaching Schools or external consultants.  The majority of this additional time is generally spent with those schools who have not yet been judged good but we can facilitate this for any of our academies as required.


Academy Development Days will be recharged to individual academy budgets from money set aside for academy improvement work.  This would generally be at a flat rate re-charge of £350 per day.  It is proposed that this same level of recharge be applied to academy budgets when using Headteacher colleagues and others within the Trust – this recharge would show as income to the supporting Headteacher’s academy.  This is less than the market rate so represents good value to the supported academy but also recognises the need to back-fill for the Headteacher’s time in their own school.  It ensures that the money remains within the Trust wherever possible rather than being paid out to external providers.


Academies that have not yet reached a good judgement will be required to budget for academy improvement support and the Academy Improvement Director will facilitate and monitor support against these budgets in each academy.  The amount budgeted for will need to be agreed each year between the Headteacher, the Academy Improvement Director, the Chief Executive and the Finance Director.



Building Capacity within the Trust


It is a strategic aim of the Trust to continually develop the ability of our academies to provide increasing levels of support to one another.  We will look to grow capacity in our academies by involving school leaders and practitioners in academy improvement work.  As we develop and grow our Database of Expertise, we will increasingly grow our capacity and expand our resource.



Joint Practice Development


Underpinning all of the above is the on-going practice development that takes place within the Trust.  Examples of these can be seen in Appendix 2 and include:


  • Development of peer to peer academy improvement support;
  • Middle Leader development programme;
  • Headteacher development programme in conjunction with University of Worcester;
  • Facilitation of attendance at national Headteacher conference;
  • Network meetings for groups of leaders e.g. SENCOs, English Leaders;
  • Moderation meetings termly;
  • Annual Trust INSET day;
  • Gaining the Advantage – Pupil Premium Conference;
  • Visits to other academies;
  • NQT mentoring.



Academy Improvement Meetings (AIM)



  • For Directors, the Chief Executive, the Academy Improvement Director (AID), school leaders and local governors to evaluate the progress of each DSAT Academy.
  • A key expectation will be that the AIM evaluates and reports on the extent to which the academy is providing good or better achievement, outcomes and learning for all pupils.
  • For the Headteacher and the academy to provide the attendees with the evidence to support an accurate judgement about the progress the academy is making and the action it is taking to ensure and sustain improvement.
  • To consider the academy’s progress in the light of agreed priorities and targets including national floor standards, academy improvement plans, agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and success criteria.
  • To ask the academy’s leaders to respond to questions, give their view on the progress the school is making and explore with the attendees, the key issues in the school.
  • To review amend or confirm the academy’s priorities for improvement.
  • To support and when necessary redirect resources and priorities to support improvement.
  • To inform strategic decisions about future development, support and challenge.
  • To identify strengths and successes as well as areas for development and barriers to improvement such that academies can support each other and share good practice


One week prior to the AIM, the Academy Improvement Director will circulate the following documents by email to all AIM attendees.  The detail of the agenda will have been agreed with the Headteacher in advance of sending it out:


  • Agenda;
  • Report from the previous AIM.


Leaders of each academy are responsible for circulating the following documents by email to all AIM attendees, one week before the meeting:


  • A report from the academy leader (this may also double as a part of the Self Evaluation Form (SEF) for the school or the Headteacher Report to governors) giving clear judgements and supportive evidence of progress and standards in the areas of achievement, teaching and learning, behaviour and safety and the quality of leadership and management;
  • Additional data or information which the academy leader may feel is helpful to support an understanding of the context of the school and aspects of its improvement;
  • The most recent set of pupil achievement data;


The meetings will generally last for 2 hours and maintain a sharp focus on identifying the next steps for improvement, as well as celebrating successes.  These meetings will take place 3 times per year, in the majority of cases unless a different arrangement has been agreed with the academy.


  • Meetings will normally be chaired by the AID;
  • Notes will be seen by the Headteacher and Chair of LGB prior to circulation, to check for accuracy and to ensure there is consistency with the agenda;
  • The role of the AID will be to provide appropriate challenge and support to the school;
  • The AID will spend time looking at appropriate evidence in preparation for the meeting;
  • Meetings will use evidence gathered prior to the visit and during the monitoring aspects of the visit (typically undertaken the day before the AIM);
  • Evidence will be sought and discussed under the main inspection headings and summary comment will be made against each of the aspects, giving an indication of where the academy stands in relation to potential inspection gradings;
  • It will not be possible to look at each area in detail so a focus should be agreed for each meeting such that all areas will be covered over a period of time.


Academy Improvement Meeting attendees:  Academy Improvement Director (Chair); Headteacher; Chair of Local Governing Board; Headteacher Partner; other LAB members; Headteacher Consultant (where appropriate).



Interim Academy Improvement Meetings (iAIMs)


These will take place 3 times per year where a school is considered to be less than good (inspection or self-evaluation) or as agreed/requested in good / outstanding schools.  The focus will be:

  • Learning walk through the school, observing teaching, learning and looking at evidence of children’s work (this should typically last for between 30-60 minutes and be led by the Headteacher) – focus on the main areas for improvement and demonstrating progress made so far;
  • Discussion relating to main actions from previous AIM;
  • What has been achieved so far? What is outstanding? What is the plan for completion?
  • Identification of other emerging priorities;
  • Actions to be accomplished by the time of the next AIM;
  • Identification of support that may be required before that meeting;
  • The visit should last between 2-3 hours, including the learning walk.


A brief report will be supplied soon after the meeting which will summarise the above.


Interim Academy Improvement Meeting attendees:  Chief Executive Officer (Chair); Headteacher; Headteacher Partner; Chair of Local Governing Board; Headteacher Consultant (where appropriate)


All attendees are expected to make every effort to be present at these meetings.  When attendance is not possible, sufficient notice and explanation should be given and an effort made to find a substitute;


All participants recognise that the combined focus of the meeting is to bring about change and improvement through collective and proactive action.  All attendees should be asking the question: ‘What can I do to support improvement here?’


Information shared in meetings is confidential and should only be shared through the appropriate channels.

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