Thank you to all that visited the SAAF Education stand, we enjoyed what was a busy day, where we met lots of new people and made some great new contacts. I also had the opportunity to listen to some insightful guest speakers.
With conferences, discussions and demonstrations running throughout the day it was clear to see that every speaker, exhibitor, and delegate were there to help improve the standards of academies and trusts.
Three recurring themes of the day were:
This was a common phrase used by multiple speakers throughout the day. It not only applies to the structure of multi-academy trusts (MATs), but to all schools in general. As Andy Collings of Challenger Multi-Academy Trust commented, “It’s done with, not done to!”
Collaboration was a core message during Pamela Wright’s workshop on establishing and growing a MAT. Using her own trust as an example, Pamela explained that instead of having a clear separation between academy and trust, or between each academy within the trust, they should all work together harmoniously. Collaboration is key!
Academies within the trust should not work against each other in a competition to be the highest performing school within the group, but offer support to improve standards across the whole trust. Equally, the trust should not become a form of ‘dictator’ and force a change on the academies they take on. If a change is necessary, such as the change of payroll provider, then a member of the trust and each academy in the group should communicate to understand why this change is necessary and set up a specification for the new provider that suits the whole group.
Collaboration was discussed again in George Huthart’s talk on Pupil Premium. George spoke of how engaging with the local community, local schools, and pupils families can offer huge benefits to the development of children. He used the example of allowing his pupils to use social media and blogs that would be sent out to their parents and other local schools and academies to get them excited about writing.
When George’s pupils saw their work published online and discussed by peers and teachers, it not only gave them a huge boost in confidence, but it allowed their families to see their literacy development first hand. Social media platforms such as Twitter, and Facebook are free to use, giving your school or academy an easy way to help improve your pupils writing.
The development of children was a key theme from lots of speakers. Pamela Wright gave an example of a school in special measures joining a MAT, and explained how it felt like a beauty pageant when she met with their leadership team. This led her to discuss how important it was to focus on the children’s learning and development rather than aesthetics and external views. She suggested that when a MAT takes on a new academy they should not give out fake promises of new buildings and restructuring. Instead they should be serious about their improvements and ensure that their vision and goals match that of the trust’s, to ensure they will have a good working relationship. Academies should primarily focus on improving the standards of their pupils learning and happiness rather than financial gain.
There are many ways to make back-office systems more efficient and automation is one of them. Will Jordan from PS Financials offered many solutions to implement automated processed and procedures, removing the monotony of your everyday manual tasks.
Acquiring software that can create automatic workflows can save you valuable time and effort. These workflows can automate tasks such as waiting for auditable approvals. A scanned copy can be emailed directly to the signatory allowing them to sign electronically, therefore, reducing the need for paper based approvals and reducing the approval time as this process can be completed quickly even if the signatory is away from the office.
MATs should also ensure all the academies within the trust use the same systems so that they can be controlled centrally. Centralised systems allow for a more efficient trust since data does not need to be duplicated and re-entered from trust to academy, and ensures that everyone follows the same processes and procedures.
If you would like to learn about the other ways to increase efficency with workflows and PS Financials, then click here to view our recent blog.
Finally, we would all like to say a huge thank you to everyone that visited our stand and spoke to us. We always appreciate having the opportunity to speak to new academies and discuss how we can help you improve efficiencies in your academy or trust with our range of services.
If you entered our competition, then watch our twitter and LinkedIn, we will be announcing the winner shortly.