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Our Trust receives a central service fee more commonly known as a ‘top slice’ from each school’s student-led funding to enable it to carry out its statutory responsibilities and provide core services to the schools in the Trust. The central service fee therefore is the level of contribution from each school to our Trust. The charge will be between 3% and 5% of the General Annual Grant and is set and agreed annually by the Trustees. Decisions will be guided through the principle of maximum delegation of funds to our schools. This fee is used to deliver our Trust’s core offer, the most important element of which is school improvement support, guidance and advice.
At the heart of our Core Offer 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.
Ultimately, The Circle Trust strategically invests to help schools secure improved educational outcomes. Therefore, our Trust promotes and facilitates collaboration and joint working between schools within and across type and phase.
Our Trust’s core services to schools
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:
- 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.
- 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 and all reporting to the DfE
- HR and payroll – advice, support and oversight of:
- Employer services
- HR Advice
- TUPE process
- Staffing structure and equal pay advice
- 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
- 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
- Admissions Authority – establishing admissions arrangements including consultations as well as administering appeals.
- 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 thecircletrust.co.uk and information sharing platform (Sharepoint).
- 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.
- All trust -led communications, Web/e-presence and publications.
- Marketing strategy and advice to help guide schools on how to retain and/or improve numbers on roll
- 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, in liaison with the school, will lead the national bidding system to attend to necessary repairs and developments.
- Data management set up and induction of SIMS, advice and audit for statutory data sets including census, reporting to parents/carers and monitoring progress.
- OFSETD – 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.
- Hosts Trust wide meetings which include:
Termly “Big Fat Mat” meetings for all Leaders and Clerks
- 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