Our Core Offer


The Core Offer 2018/19

An essential core value held by The Circle Trust is the belief that schools should be run by, and their improvement driven by, their staff led by their Leadership Team and Local Advisory Board (LAB).  The school’s leadership team and Local Advisory Boards have responsibility for the school’s educational performance, financial priorities and developing their school’s individual character.  Our Trust will therefore provide the support and infrastructure that schools need to enable them to develop and improve and for the school leadership and LAB to achieve their objectives for their school.

At the heart of our Trust is access to school improvement advice and guidance from high quality

leaders, which includes regular meetings, support, specialist raising achievement input and supporting staff training and development.  Levels of support can be differentiated according to the need of individual schools.  The Circle Trust, like many others, may delegate responsibilities in proportion to the strength of individual schools and the skills and expertise of their Local Advisory Board.

Our School Improvement CPD provision is call “The Learning Curve.”

Ultimately, The Circle Trust strategically invests to help schools secure improved pupil outcomes.  Therefore, our Trust promotes and facilitates collaboration and joint working between schools within and across phases.


Our school improvement offer includes:

Support to Local Advisory Boards (LABs) to help them perform their monitoring duties as well as provide challenge to the leadership of the school including leading the performance management of the Headteacher.  This includes support to the LAB Chair and Clerk.  We provide financial advice, control on budget planning, monitoring, purchasing, policy development, and capital projects, and deliver the legal functions of audit, filing accounts, and reporting to the DfE as well as high quality HR advice and guidance on payroll and personnel issues.

Our Trust’s Core Offer (the essential services equally provided for all partner schools) will evolve over time.  Initially we will provide centrally controlled high quality core functions in school improvement, finance, HR, contract management and reactive maintenance.

The Circle Trust and our partner schools work within a culture of trust and transparency.  Therefore, whilst we seek maximum delegation to each school’s leadership team and LAB, we only qualify this when our Trust is required to fulfil its statutory duties and to ensure school improvement.  In exercising their delegated authority, the Headteacher / LAB must have due regard to the agreed policies and procedures of the Trust and to any views of the Trustees.  Schools in our Trust will need to act in accordance with the agreed policies and procedures of The Circle Trust, which themselves must be in accordance with the Funding Agreement and Scheme of Delegation of the Trust.


Core MAT services

The Circle Trust team is funded by a core services fee from school budgets supplemented by government grants e.g. for costs of conversion and for pre-opening of new schools, and any future traded services income.  In 2018 – 19, the central service fee will be 4% of the General Annual Grant (GAG) funding received by each school in the Trust.

These core MAT services include:

  1. School improvement – advice and guidance from specialist primary and secondary experts, regular meetings, immediate support by phone/email, brokering additional support as required by the school, directing support where required to ensure school improvement, monitoring school performance and reporting to the Trustees.

The purpose of the school improvement visit is to:

  • Review and develop the use of data in the school (external and internal)
  • Analyse and interrogate data by raising questions which support the school’s self-evaluation process and identification of priorities for development
  • Discuss national updates and provide a forum for the sharing of good practice in school improvement
  • Provide moderation and validation of the school’s own judgement about their performance
  • Assess and develop the school’s capacity for sustaining improvement
  • Categorise schools in terms of performance and need
  • Create peer support networks for schools and a collaborative approach to school improvement

Each school within the Trust will be entitled to a minimum of two visits per academic year.  Further details are set out in The Circle Trust’s School Improvement Core offer.

The Trust will also pay the annual fee to be a member of PIXL partnership.  PIXL (Partners in Excellence) is a national organisation.  It emerged from the London Challenge in 2007, involving 50 schools in its inception to a current membership of 650 primary schools, 1600 secondary schools, 75 Pupil Referral Units and 550 post-16 providers.  The focus of the organisation is on raising standards across KS2, GCSE and A-levels to improve life chances and progression routes for all children and young people.  The partnership brings school leaders together to share ideas, innovation and improvement strategies.

Through the PIXL, partnership schools in The Circle Trust will have access to pedagogical principles dealing with improving outcomes as well as a comprehensive range of resources.  PIXL provides Leadership Teams with 5/6 high quality national meetings per year giving the highest quality of leadership advice and guidance and pertinent briefings regarding educational announcements.  Following each meeting schools are visited by a PIXL Associate to help to support and advise Headteachers on where to access information and resources and to reflect on the strategies shared.  Further details are set out in The Circle Trust’s School Improvement Core Offer

2 – Finance – advice, support and oversight of:

  • Cloud based Financial Management System
  • Budget principles, construction and monitoring
  • Value for money procurement systems
  • Provision of insurance
  • Bank account monitoring
  • Statutory reporting
  • Payroll set up and monitoring
  • Guidance on how to boost school generated income such as lettings

3 – Audit, filing accounts, reporting to the DfE .

4 – HR and payroll – advice, support and oversight of:

  • Employer services
  • HR Advice
  • TUPE process
  • Staffing structure and equal pay advice
  • Contracts
  • Recruitment and retention strategies
  • Performance Management and Related Pay advice
  • Performance management of Headteachers on behalf of the Trust and in support of LABs
  • Help desk advice and guidance
  • Occupational Health Referrals

5 – Facilities management

  • Insurance via RPA
  • Reactive maintenance advice and guidance
  • Health & safety Audit
  • Monitoring of regular testing – Legionella, PAT, fire alarm & extinguishers, emergency lighting, water coolers, regular equipment checks for workshops, playground equipment
  • Set up and monitoring of cleaning contract & hygiene services
  • Advice and monitoring of grounds maintenance contract
  • Advice and monitoring of refuse contract
  • Advice and monitoring of utilities contracts

6 – Admissions Authority – establishing admissions arrangements including consultations as well as administering appeals.

7 – The Circle Trust will guide schools in adopting our Trust’s policies and procedures and sharing experience and good practice, and will maintain a set of model policies and provide policy advice to schools, including the Trust’s website www.thecircletrust.co.uk and information sharing platform (Sharepoint).

8 – Local Advisory Board support – information and advice to the Chair of Local Advisors and clerk in addition to coordination of training and development.  Gold Membership of the National Governance Association.

9 – All trust -led communications, Web/e-presence and publications.

10 – Marketing strategy and advice to help guide schools on how to retain and/or improve numbers on roll

11 – Capital planning and application.  Once joining our Trust we will commission a buildings condition report, unless one is available in the last 3 years.  From the priorities identified in the report the Trust will, in liaison with the school, lead the national bidding system to attend to necessary repairs and developments.

12 – Data management set up and induction of SIMS, advice and audit for statutory data sets including census, reporting to parents/carers and monitoring progress.

13 – OFSTED. The Circle Trust commits to giving any school immediate practical support and encouragement during an Inspection as well as attending the feedback meeting. This also extends to guidance and support in the development of the School Evaluation Form (SEF) and quality assurance for Headteachers and Local Advisors concerning judgements.

14 – Monthly Circle of Trust” meetings for Headteachers, which have, school improvement and pedagogical sharing and reflection fixed agenda item


Termly “Big Fat Mat” meetings for all Leaders and Clerks




Termly “Chair of Trustees meetings with Chair of LABs”



Annual “Squaring the Circle” Governance Training for all Local Advisors, Trustees and Members




15 – The Circle Trust’s team also carries out work on strategic Trust developments such as conversion of schools joining the Trust, submitting bids and applications for new schools, and planning and supporting the development of new schools and other major school expansion projects.


In 2019–20, The Circle Trust seeks to enhance the core offer to include:

  • Special Educational Needs advice and guidance with annual training for teaching children and young people on the autistic spectrum

ICT Management Traded Service