Frequently Asked Questions
What will joining the Trust mean for your school?
No school is the same. The SGS Academy Trust does not think schools in our Trust should be the same, either!
Every school is different due to their size, pupil demographic, financial strength or academic performance. Equally, no two Headteachers are the same, and their career experience, professional strengths and CPD needs will be different in each case.
We will discuss the needs of the school with the Governors and the Headteacher and then what range of support services is right for your school. These services will be bespoke and proportionate to the needs of each school.
Strong, high performing schools will be asked to play a part in developing other institutions in the Trust and share expertise amongst colleagues and will have the opportunity to ‘pick-and-mix’ the support services required from the central Trust team. If this were to happen, the school would be compensated for these services by the Trust.
A key driver for high performing schools will be to drive down back-office and purchasing costs and benefit from the sharing of expertise and services within the Trust. The money saved will free up budget so that the current services to pupils can be maintained. Budgetary and curriculum autonomy will be retained, as too will be most of the powers of the Local Governing Body.
For schools with financial or academic performance challenges, the Trust will take a greater supportive role to ensure the school can maximise the benefits of the Trust and the expertise available to support a rapid turnaround of the school. School leadership will be provided if required with school improvement support from the Trust and the school improvement partners that work with the School. Efficiencies will be found to ensure we improve the school financially through central provision of services, greater purchasing power and a wide range of experts to help to streamline the school and ensure the Headteacher can focus on teaching and learning.
How can joining a Trust be better than staying autonomous?
The success of your school is down to the quality of school leadership and the capability of staff. We understand that joining any Trust is a big decision for the most successful academies if the primary consideration is school improvement.
In the SGS Academy Trust, we would welcome Converter Academies to join the Trust and add to our central offer to other schools and to ensure all children and staff within the Trust benefit from this expertise. In return, where SGS Academy Trust could support a Converter Academy would be to help you to continue to provide the quality of teaching and support staff when static funding means that budgets will come under intense pressure.
Withstanding this financial pressure cannot always be done easily as a stand-alone school with a limited turnover. By joining the SGS Academy Trust, your school can access expertise which will ensure you have the right information and the right time to make informed decisions. You will benefit from centralised services and the negotiating and purchasing power of a larger buying partnership. The costs for these services will be taken from the cost savings secured by the Trust rather than it being another cost against an already tight budget. Therefore a Converter Academy, has the opportunity to benefit from the Trust without compromising the autonomy that has created the successful school in the first place.
Will the school lose its autonomy if it joins the Trust?
Legally, the Trust will become accountable to the Secretary of State for the academic and financial performance of every school in the Trust. Some autonomy of the school will therefore be lost. However, it is not possible, or desirable, for all operational decisions to be made centrally.
A scheme of delegation will be negotiated with every school before entering the Trust, with maximum autonomy for high performing, financially robust schools who would choose which central services they wish to benefit from and what decisions will be retained. SGS Academy Trust believes that competent, well-supported Headteachers are in the best position to manage their schools with minimal interference or bureaucracy from the centre. The Trust will provide economies of scale and a range of support services to allow the Headteacher to focus on teaching and learning without the distraction of many non-essential operational tasks matters.
Will I, as Headteacher, lose my autonomy?
No, a well run, high performing school needs an effective leader. A decision to join a Trust will be made for a variety of reasons. The academisation of schools brought autonomy but it also meant that Headteachers had less time to remain focused on school improvement, staff support and the children in the school. SGS Academy Trust understands that, as funding pressures mount, it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance school finances and only by joining larger partnerships will schools be able to survive in the medium term.
SGS Academy Trust will provide the Headteacher with support services so they don’t have to worry about the non-academic business of running a school but will be provided with information needed to allow them to take local decisions.
Budget and curriculum autonomy will be retained by the Headteacher within a scheme of delegation, which will be negotiated with each school. Your terms and conditions of employment will not be adversely affected.
Will School Board members lose their influence over the school?
No. A strong, local governing body (LGB) is essential to hold the Headteacher to account on behalf of the school pupils, staff and parents. A scheme of delegation will determine the role of each LGB, dependent on the strength of the school financially and academically. Where necessary, the Trust will provide local support to Governors to address any shortfall in skills.
How much will this cost the school?
The intention is that joining the SGS Academy Trust will not ‘cost’ the school at all. The Trust is not-for-profit and will work tirelessly to manage the school budgets and ensure budgets are focused on student-facing activity and resources.
SGS Academy Trust will seek out savings to pay for central costs but will not retain any more than 4.9% of the General Access Grant. In reality, this payment to the Trust will be based on affordability and taken from savings made as a result of centralising services and greater purchasing power of the Trust. As the Trust will become responsible for the financial health of each school, it is not in its interest to allow a school to deteriorate financially as a result of joining the Trust.
Savings can be achieved whilst improving the support services within schools by the economies of scale available to a group of schools, which allows us to pool the expertise and buying power of the schools and College.
So, schools will retain all budgets that are student-facing, such as teaching and support staffing and resource budgets, whilst the Trust will maximise saving to back-office services, systems and licensing and collective purchasing power.