FAQ's

FAQ's


What is The Staffordshire University Academies Trust?

The Staffordshire University Academies Trust is a registered company limited by guarantee. It has been set up in order to sponsor schools to become Academies. It draws its ethos and direction from Staffordshire University.

How many schools might join the Staffordshire University Academies Trust?

We’re looking to create a family of schools within, or adjacent to, Staffordshire. The intention is to develop geographical hubs which reflect and respect local circumstances and expertise. Our expectation is that we will seek to develop 4 or 5 hubs in order to achieve clear community benefits. We will not allow the Trust to grow to a point beyond which its core values - nor the educational benefits that derive from them - are compromised.

What are the criteria for schools joining the Staffordshire University Academies Trust?

Any school may apply but in order to protect the interests of the academies already in the Trust, the Board may defer entry in certain cases where due diligence criteria are not met.

Just how ‘independent’ is each Academy?

Each Academy has its own Local Academy Council. The exact devolution of powers is determined by the Ofsted grade of the applicant school. Academies graded as Ofsted grades 1 or 2 will have full powers for day-to-day running, which are delegated from the Trust Board of the Staffordshire University Academies Trust. This includes decisions on the curriculum, pedagogical approaches and staffing. SUAT does have the right to step in where necessary – for example if the quality of the teaching provision at the Academy is at risk. It may also step in at the point that a school chooses to join the Trust as part of an agreed support programme.

What changes may occur to Local Governing Bodies?

Each academy will have a Local Academy Council. They will be slim, focused and effective. There will be up to 12 members - 7 community members agreed by the Trust, the Principal, 2 parent members (elected) and 2 staff members (elected). The emphasis will be on skills and commitment. Existing governors may be appointed as community members – indeed the Trust firmly believes that such members should come from the local community.

Who agrees the priorities for the Academy?

The Principal, alongside the Local Academy Council, set the priorities for the Academy each year. These are then monitored by the CEO and the Trust Board.

Who are the SUAT centrally employed employees? What is their role?

The Trust seeks to minimise the cost of centrally employed staff so that it can maximise the revenue distributed to its academies. The key posts in the structure are Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Finance Manager, Estates Coordinator, Finance Assistant and School Improvement Staff.

What efforts have been made by SUAT to build a relationship with trade unions?

The Trust is totally committed to having a very positive relationship with the Trades Unions. The Trust’s officers have consulted with local officers from teaching and support staff professional associations and trade unions on a ‘National Agreement for Trade Union Recognition’. 

Will the Trust impose a common software application for finance and other areas? If so, what will it be?

SUAT Academies have the Sims MIS system. With regards to Finance, all SUAT Academies use the PS Financials system. This is easy to use and designed specifically for Academies. Both SUAT’s finance team and PS Financials will work with Academies to implement and train staff on this system. The systems above have been procured on the basis that they are best systems available.

Who makes the decision whether schools can join?

The initial decision is taken by the SUAT Trust Board.  Ultimately the decision is made by the Regional Schools Commissioner supported by the Headteacher Board.

What will be the impact on our budget in year 1 and subsequently?

Generally each SUAT academy will have a larger budget than a Local Authority counterpart. The funding provided by the government for each academy is calculated in the same way as for other schools in the Local Authority. However, an academy receives additional funding which represents that part of the schools funding that is retained by the Local Authority to meet the costs of services provided by the Local Authority to schools. Though there is a variation between Local Authorities, the funding held is almost always larger than the comparable 5% management charge levied by SUAT.

What audit arrangements will be in place?

A condition of the Funding Agreement is that Staffordshire University Academies Trust appoints an Accounting Officer and undertakes an annual independent external audit. In addition, the Trust chooses to appoint internal auditors. The system is designed to ensure that an independent oversight of the financial affairs of SUAT Academies takes place.

Will there be a Trust Financial Handbook?

Yes. The EFA academy financial handbook requires the Trust to draw up an internal financial regulations / procedures manual. If you would like a draft copy, please contact us.

Who will provide finance support?

The Trust will take responsibility for submitting the annual financial report, to the EFA, on behalf of all its Academies.  Finance support will be provided by the COO and the Finance Manager.

Will schools be required to use SUAT services?

There is a requirement for Academies to use those central services previously outlined in the document. In addition we would expect all schools to participate in programmes designed to link staff development opportunities to the School of Education. Support for school improvement is proportionate to need, which is usually defined by the Ofsted category of the school. More broadly, the Trust will pursue an approach that commissions services through local and national strategic partners (including local authorities) to secure value for money. In particular, the Trust is striving to identify partners that work on a social enterprise or not-for-profit basis.

Will there be any common branding? Logos? Mottos? Uniform?

As a minimum there will be a recognition and signage to state that the new Academy is a SUAT Academy. There will be discussion with each Academy, on an individual basis, to determine what is most appropriate in the Academy’s local circumstances.

What role do parents and the local community play in the running of the Academy?

Each SUAT Academy will have two elected parent governors as well as seven community governors. In addition, SUAT aims to expand the presence of each of its Academies within the local community. The Trust firmly believes that such integration between Academy and community nurtures a positive environment within which children can flourish. The Trust uses staff expertise from Staffordshire University to support the development of such community work.

Will pay scales stay the same?

Yes. Staff will continue to be employed as per the conditions of service they had prior to the school becoming a SUAT Academy.

Will each Academy still have a Principal and leadership team?

Yes. Wherever possible SUAT is committed to the policy of one Principal per academy. The Trust considers other options only in situations where this is not possible.

Who will be responsible for new appointments at the Academy?

The Academy Principal and Local Academy Council are responsible for all new appointments. The only exceptions to this is the Principal and the Local Academy Council itself. The Principal is appointed by the Local Academy Council and the SUAT Trust Board. The process of appointing the Local Academy Council is covered above.

Will staff be expected to work/cover/share expertise across Academies in their cluster?

All SUAT Academies are expected to exchange ideas, contribute to knowledge and best practice sharing. Any staff exchange leading from this will be worked out in full consultation with staff and their Academy. We would hope the opportunity to work in other environments would be viewed by colleagues as a key part of personal development and beneficial to all.

Can staff be moved to other SUAT Academies to provide cover?

This will depend upon the contract of employment. As a general rule, employees will be offered the opportunity to support other Academies within SUAT where it is reasonable to do so.

Will subject co-ordinator posts be shared across Academies?

The running of Academies and the co-ordination of curriculum areas are delegated to the leadership of individual Academies. Where a joint post may be beneficial to pupils and staff across two or more Academies, and the concept is practicable, then consultation and discussion would take place and staff would be fully involved.

What are the implications for staff development, promotion and other career prospects?

All staff, whatever their role, working in SUAT Academies will be encouraged to broaden their knowledge, experience and skills by sharing, talking and working with other schools. The intention is to create more opportunities to learn, motivate and retain staff as well as grow future leaders who are used to working across our family of Academies.

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