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. Integral to our academy improvement work is our commitment to the growth of school to school support and a self-improving Trust.
Academy Improvement Director
The Trust employs an Academy Improvement Director (AID). Each of our academies is entitled to up to six days of improvement support, according to need, 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 through direct involvement in Academy Development Days, interim AIM and on-going improvement work. Each Headteacher will lead three interim AIMs to review another Academy’s performance against agreed areas of the Academy Improvement Plan. The interim AIM will be attended and facilitated by the AID or HIL.
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 one of our Hub Improvement Leads (HILs), the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) or 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 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 actively promote strong partnerships with other secondary providers where these promote improvement, dependent upon the prevailing circumstances at any given time. Again, the AID oversees 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.
The Trust employees two Hub Improvement Leads (HILs) who provide leadership on school improvement to a group of schools to ensure each school is supported and challenged to secure excellent provision. The HIL role is to co-construct school improvement solutions and to challenge and support middle and senior leaders to raise attainment. HILs hold school leaders to on the progress being made towards school targets.
Additional development days are available from the AID and HILs 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, the DBE 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 for the AID, HILs and Headteachers, £250 per day for teachers and £150 per day for support staff. 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 colleague’s academy. This is less than the market rate and 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 will be required to budget for academy improvement support dependent on need 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 Financial Director.
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. For this purpose each Headteacher is a strategic lead in at least one area, in order to raise performance across the Trust. We will look to grow capacity in our academies by involving other 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.
Underpinning all of the above is the on-going practice development that takes place within the Trust. Examples of these include:
- Peer to peer academy improvement support;
- Middle Leader development programme;
- Headteacher Leadership programme;
- Network and hub meetings for groups of leaders e.g. SENCOs, English Leaders, Chairs of Governors, Business Managers and Finance Officers;
- Moderation meetings across hubs;
- Annual Trust INSET day;
- Annual Pupil Premium Conference;
- Visits to other academies;
- Talk for Writing and Maths No Problem training;
- DBE training through the PSA scheme;
- SPTO/Arbor and GL assessment training;
- Deputy Headteacher and senior leader programme;
- RQT and NQT programme with NQT mentoring.
- 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 and self-evaluation.
- 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 agree the focus of the AIM with the Headteacher so that they may formulate a programme of activities for the day.
Leaders of each academy are responsible for circulating the following documents by email to the AID one week before the meeting:
- The most recent Headteacher report to governors, SEF, Academy Improvement Plan, the LGB minutes, the previous AIM report RAG rated and the PP strategy RAG rated.
- 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;
Following the activities to evaluate the academy’s progress there will be a meeting which will generally last for 2 hours and maintain a sharp focus on identifying the next steps for improvement, as well as celebrating successes. AIMS 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;
- 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
- Governors are not expected to attend the whole day but are welcome to take part in the evaluation activities as well as the meeting,
- Evidence will be sought and discussed under the main inspection headings and summary comment will be made against each of the aspects, to support the school’s self-evaluation.
Academy Improvement Meeting attendees: Academy Improvement Director (Chair); Headteacher; Chair of Local Governing Board; other LGB members; other senior leaders;
AIMs are typically 9-1 p.m. with the meeting from 2-4 p.m. for a one day AIM, and 9-4 p.m. with a meeting the following day from 9-11 a.m. for a 1.5 day AIM.
Peer to Peer Programme including interim Academy Improvement Meetings (iAIMS)
The interim Academy Improvement Meetings will be a key part of the peer to peer work across the Trust.
To contribute towards improving our academies through peer support, which impacts upon the achievement and attainment of all pupils. All participants recognise that the combined focus of the activity is to bring about change and improvement through challenge, with collective and proactive action.
- To make three visits per year to each school in the group, focussing on one, or a maximum of two aspects of the Academy Improvement Plan, to be decided by the host school.
- We will agree all visit dates well in advance and there is an expectation that dates are held as a priority and will not be changed, to ensure the smooth running of these arrangements.
- One week prior to the meeting, the Host Headteacher will RAG rate the Academy Improvement Plan priorities which are to be the focus and share these with the Lead Headteacher and Headteacher Reviewer.
- Members of the group and the AID/HIL will visit the host academy for approximately 4 hours.
- The Host Headteacher will compile a programme of activities, including senior and middle leaders where appropriate. This will include a learning walk and looking at evidence of children’s work to identify the impact of actions on children’s achievement, particularly those in receipt of Pupil Premium.
- The visiting Headteachers will record all observations on forms to be given to the Host and Lead Headteachers.
- Each visit will finish with constructive and incisive feedback being provided by the Lead Headteacher, to the Host Headteacher, relating to the focus of the visit, identifying actions to be accomplished by the time of the next AIM and where possible suggestions for how to achieve these actions.
- Visiting Headteachers will also share any other pertinent observations from the day relating to emerging issues, particularly those of a safeguarding nature.
- Identification of support that may be required before the next AIM will be agreed with peer Headteachers considering the support they can give or how the hub can work together to move the academy forward.
- Information shared in meetings is confidential and should only be shared through the appropriate channels.
- Ashort summary report will be completed by the Lead Headteacher within a week of the visit which will be sent to the attendees, the CEO and the chair of governors.
- At all times we will share information with teachers, support staff and governors to ensure that this contributes to whole-school improvement and is an open and transparent process.
Whilst the financial costs of this model are minimal, each school agrees to invest the required level of leadership time to enable these arrangements to take place.
- The group of Headteachers and AID have a wide set of skills, training and experience. Training will be provided at the start of the programme by the AID and added to when necessary.
- The Headteacher Reviewer and AID will feedback to the Lead Headteacher and the Host Headteacher on the effectiveness of the process after each visit.
- External input will be gained from external Pupil Premium reviews, DFE visits, Ofsted and SIAMS inspections.
- Confidence in the peer to peer programme as a self-improving approach.
- Build leadership capacity within the Headteacher and Senior Leader groups in the Trust.
- Achieve the identified pupil targets within each academy.
- Shared responsibility for an academy’s improvement from peer reviewers.
- A system in place which enables sustainable improvements across the Trust.