Joining our Trust
We recognise the climate we are currently in presents a number of schools questioning whether or not now is the right time to consider joining a Multi Academy Trust.
We established this page for those schools who are questioning if now is the right time to consider joining a Multi Academy Trust to provide an understanding of how The Stour Academy Trust operates.
The Stour Academy Trust is not a Multi Academy Trust looking to grow rapidly or build an empire. We feel rapid expansion would mean a loss of connectivity and collaboration between our existing academies. We are, however, keen to grow with schools who buy into our five key values, and have a passion to change the traditional restrictions and ideologies of education:
A look back at the last academic year for The Stour Academy Trust
The Stour Academy Trust was established in Sept 2012 following the federation of our two founding schools, Sturry C E Primary School and Water Meadows Primary School. We are now a Multi Academy Trust consisting of eight primary schools across three geographical areas – Canterbury, Ashford and Swale.
The Stour Academy Trust recognises that our education system needs to quickly and more radically shift to close equity gaps and to better prepare our young people for the 21st century. We are transforming our classrooms and curriculum from passive forms of learning focused on direct instruction and memorisation, by moving towards interactive and flexible methods that promote the critical and individual thinking needed in today’s innovation-driven economy.
We pride ourselves on being a Multi Academy Trust at the forefront of providing a 21st century education to children, through radical innovations and a pedagogical model.
As a Trust we are well experienced in opening new schools from inception, as well as turning failing schools around, and have a strong history of school improvement as identifiable within our current Ofsted profile.
The Stour Academy Trust operates a fully centralised back office model of efficiencies to ultimately allow for schools to focus on the core functions of education. This model creates financial savings to reinvest straight back into schools.
Below we summarise our core departments within The Stour Academy Trust. If you would like to discuss these further or would like a conversation regarding the process of academisation please feel free to contact us by using the button below:
Our finance department operates from Thistle Hill Academy as one centralised function. We are fully cloud based and paperless allowing for hybrid working efficiencies. Our finance team, led by the COO whom acts as CFO, is dedicated to ensuring every penny counts through Trust wide procurement with value for money being considered for all purchases made. Schools joining our Trust would lose the burden of budget management and making the books balance. Our school leaders have one core finance function – overseeing the curriculum budget in line with the Academy Development Plan.
In 2022 we made the radical step to move to completely electronic HR functions which allows for the Trust to operate more efficiently and the Central Team to manage all core functions of Human Resources. Staffing and recruitment are overseen by the COO and an experienced team of HR Assistants. Joining our organisation would see your school receiving hands-on support through high level HR matters, with the responsibilities of recruitment being shared with a wider organisation operating revolutionary recruitment tactics and initiatives.
Our governance model is simple and radical; our Board of Directors hold the management of The Stour Academy Trust to account through full board and subcommittee meetings. Parents gain a voice though our two dedicated Parent Directors, removing the need for local governance. Additionally, each school has a Parent Forum, the agenda for which includes questions raised by the Directors. This offers parents the freedom to comment on policies, such as attendance strategies and offer them a chance to present practical solutions.
Our well-balanced Estates Team consists of many professionals trained in a range of trades. We operate a fully centralised estates management system meaning when an issue is reported we can quickly assign a member of the Estates Team to deal with the issue. Unusual to many schools, individual members of the Team are not fixed to one school and the workload is directed by the Trust Estates Lead in line with our buildings management plans. Joining The Stour Academy Trust would see a detailed estates management plan being undertaken allowing school leaders to have clear timescales on when refurbishments are being done. On the ground this allows school leaders to forget the concerns of the leaking drainpipe as these issues transfer over to the Estates Team to lead on.
A critical department within our Trust is our Marketing and Communications. This innovative department leads on a number of strategies, including social media recruitment initiatives alongside campaigns to attract pupils to our schools. Our Trust School websites are built in-house and are designed to provide parents with compelling reasons to choose the school for their children. Managed by the Communications Team, our school websites are both informative and persuasive, whilst remaining Ofsted compliant. Through effective website design and management, along with a leading, centrally managed pupil admissions strategy, the Trust is able to maintain a strong online presence for its schools and promote their strengths and achievements to the local community and beyond.
At The Stour Academy Trust, professional development is well-designed, selected, and implemented so that the investment in CPDL is justified. Those who design professional development should focus on mechanisms (the core building blocks of professional development). Mechanisms are observable, can be replicated, and cannot be removed without making professional development less effective.
At the Stour Academy Trust, each school has reviewed current educational research and agreed on their key mechanisms for CPDL. This includes: the importance of revisiting prior learning, goal setting, providing feedback, and action planning. CPDL is evidence-based, and content is drawn from trusted sources. All CPDL will be framed by the values which the Trust and each school promotes and the systems will ensure that needs are being identified and met. There are active opportunities and on-going collaborative support, including termly phase meetings, subject leader network meetings and collaborative enquiry (Performance Management).
To ensure that professional development aligns with the needs of each school, the balance of Central-led and School-led CPDL has been reviewed to ensure that each school leadership team has quality time to work towards their school priorities. Leaders also recognise the time constraints faced by teachers and the impact CPDL may have on well-being, so we adapt professional development accordingly. Those designing and selecting professional development critically assess how a professional development programme fits in with school routine. Coaching supports CPDL as part of a wider program.
Our School Improvement Strategy is based on our vision and values, on the capacity to continually improve. As a Trust, children are at the heart of all we do and at the core of all decision making. We support all our academies to provide the best possible outcomes; the Trust School Improvement Strategy is in place to constantly achieve this. The Trust recognises that there is much to celebrate in every academy and looks to develop academies that are diverse and that reflect the communities they serve.
The School Improvement Strategy identifies how we work collaboratively with individual academies as well as the collective group of academies as a whole. It aims to provide clarity around the expectations, values, roles and responsibilities and ways of working, in the pursuit of enabling all children to achieve their maximum potential.
Where academies demonstrate a high level of success and strong capacity for further improvement, we consider it important that they are enabled to continue this journey and support the wider Trust as peers. There is also a moral imperative for such academies to share their expertise for the good of the Trust and the wider education system as a whole. Such academies have much to share for the benefit of others. For academies in more challenging positions, the Trust maintains a higher degree of involvement and ensures that appropriate steps are being taken to strengthen capacity and effect rapid improvement. These academies receive additional support from School Improvement Partners and the Trust’s Leaders and Lead Teachers.
As a trust, we are passionate about the implementation of 21st century technology tools to remove barriers at all levels. We aim to reduce staff workload by replacing unnecessary and mundane tasks with technology and automation. Implementing these measures frees time, tied up in administration, to be utilised by the teacher to focus on tasks that enhance teaching and learning. Children in KS2 will also use Digital Class Notebooks rather than exercise books to record learning, ensuring all learning in accessible all the time and reducing the time spent on redundant classroom tasks, such as handing out books, writing LO and much more.
To further enhance and adapt using technology, we ensure all learners can access learning and be successful learners. We provide engaging modern experiences for students, experiences that most would not have opportunity to access, including using virtual reality, augmented reality and 360° videos. Through use of publishing, we can use technology to develop children’s 21st Century skills and ensure they are able develop relevant 21st Century skills with a purposeful learning opportunity.
Using cloud-based solutions and technology, all our staff and pupils can access information from anywhere on technology provided by the Trust, meaning working from home or at our other school sites is much more manageable and school information can be accessed anywhere. We can also collaborate across the trust in real-time, sharing planning and resources, communicating effectively as a whole Trust and share good practice.