School Improvement support

What does The Circle Trust offer me?


Central to our core offer for all schools is our strategic support, challenge and oversight of school improvement.

School Improvement principles

 A core value of the Circle Trust is to ensure schools “achieve the highest educational outcomes for every learner.”  Fundamental to this is a comprehensive, ambitious and collaborative approach to school improvement.  School improvement priorities include:

  • Improved academic outcomes for all, diminishing differences in the performance of different learner groups
  • Improved educational provision and opportunity
  • Developing outstanding practitioners and sharing good practice

The Circle Trust recognises that:

 All children and young people deserve the best educational provision in Circle Trust schools

  • The Trust is accountable for the performance of schools and for ensuring appropriate action is taken to secure improvement where it is required.  Therefore, a key responsibility of the Trust is to intervene and support where there is clear evidence of issues of concern and conversely areas of outstanding practice that ought to be acknowledged and celebrated.
  • Monitoring and reflection of the performance of all schools is a key element for improvement

The Circle Trust will:

 Build school self-sufficiency, not dependency in external school improvement support and advice

  • Promote and support successful professional learning
  • Build a collaborative relationship between the Executive Headteacher/School Improvement Directors and all schools within our Trust; building positive professional peer-to-peer partnerships with schools within the Trust and beyond;
  • Ensure all schools are clear about the accountability process and the focus on achieving improving outcomes for all children.
  • Explain the school categorisation process and the criteria used to arrive at a school category decision
  • Clarify the processes the Trust will use to intervene in schools where evidence indicates provision is not as good as it should be
  • Promote the understanding of best practice and understand evidenced based research
  • Ensure the Central Service Fee provides, sufficient funds to support a high performing, effective and efficient school improvement function

The Circle Trust School Improvement Team:

All leaders in school improvement will be required to be experienced with a proven record of accomplishment of professional success and with the acumen to challenge as well as support schools.

Able to develop effective leaders by coaching and capacity building.  The Circle Trust appreciates the importance of continuity in high quality staff is key to high performing school improvement teams and coordination and communication between our Trust and the school leadership.

Excellent training helps retain talented staff and succession plan for the future.

Roles, responsibilities and relationships

 The Circle Trust believes that Trustees, Local Advisory Boards, Executive Headteacher, Headteachers all have key roles and responsibilities in leading the school improvement process.


The role of Trustees is to act strategically to support raising standards for all children and young people.  They are responsible for confirming the strategy for the Trust’s school improvement development, through the cycle of annual performance review, self-evaluation and action planning. Their role is to ensure the probity of financial decisions, and, through their planning, focus the budgetary decisions on improving outcomes for children and young people.  They are responsible for holding the Executive Headteacher to account for the performance all schools across our Trust.

Executive Headteacher

The Executive Headteacher will determine common systems and procedures for school improvement and will have the autonomy to intervene as appropriate to help improve standards across our Trust.

Director of Primary/Secondary Improvement

The role of the Director of School Improvement is to lead, in conjunction with all internal and external partners, on strategic planning of service and policy development, which responds to assessed need and is compliant with national, regional and local standards.

The key roles of the Improvement Directors are to:

  • Ensure that best practice is promoted, developed and shared in and between all schools
  • Provide timely and appropriate intervention to prevent schools falling into an OFSTED category (including RI and special measure) and to respond swiftly to support the recovery of schools that do
  • Champion the right of all learners to high quality education and to support and challenge schools in taking responsibility for the improvement of their school
  • Provide professional advice, support and challenge to schools
  • Monitor and support the improvement of achievement in schools whose performance causes concern through work with the Local Advisor Board and Headteacher in schools
  • Secure high-quality leadership and highly effective school improvement processes;
  • Support schools to review and refine their provision to meet the diverse and changing needs of their learners
  • Ensure that robust quality assurance process and appropriate levels of support and challenge are provided to all schools
  • Support the Executive Headteacher with accurate, timely and appropriate school improvement information to support the setting of Performance Management objectives for Headteachers
  • Trigger and co-ordinate intervention to secure rapidly improved performance where provision and leadership give cause for concern
  • Promote and broker partnerships as a means of securing continuing and sustainable improvement


Self-evaluation lies at the heart of both effective school improvement processes and the OFSTED inspection framework.  Through a professional dialogue, which provides both support and challenge, the Directors of School Improvement will support school leaders to make accurate judgements about their school, identifying emerging concerns in relation to performance and in establishing an evidence base which supports the school’s own evaluation of its performance.

Brokering support

The Directors of School Improvement are able to draw on local/ national intelligence and data sets regarding a wide range of schools, offer constructive and practical support for schools, facilitate introductions and broker support where necessary to respond to the outcomes of self-evaluation.  The Directors of School Improvement will also provide access to a range of networks and sources of support and challenge for schools, locally, regionally and nationally.  PIXL (a national school improvement organization) provides our Trust will access to high quality subject specific advice as well as general leadership training.  Please refer to appendix 1- PIXL Primary, appendix 2 – PIXL Secondary and appendix 3 PIXL Sixth Form.

Partners in Excellence (PIXL)

Headteachers and School Staff

 Given that schools operate within a framework of autonomy with accountability, Headteachers, with other senior leaders, have responsibility for the leadership, direction and day-to-day management of the school, within the strategic framework set by the Trust.  As such the prime responsibility of the Headteacher and staff members of each school is to strive for continuous improvement, in a safe environment, focused on achieving the very best outcomes for pupils.

The Headteacher and senior leaders will support all children, young people and work to support and monitor the effectiveness of school self-evaluation focusing on key areas of performance: the quality of leadership at all levels including governance, learning and the curriculum, teaching, pupil attainment and achievement, behaviour, safeguarding and Early Years provision.

Teaching School Alliances

The Circle Trust is committed to supporting and promoting a school-led improvement system and as such is part of a Teaching School (Wellington Teaching School Partnership).

Teaching Schools give outstanding schools a leading role in the training and professional

Development of teachers, support staff and headteachers, as well as contributing to the raising of standards through school-to-school support;

Schools work together within a Teaching School Alliance – a group of schools and other partners that is supported by the leadership of one or more designated teaching schools;

Teaching Schools can be re-designated every four years, following a re-designation process.

Lead the development of school-led initial teacher training (ITT), either through School Direct or by securing accreditation by an ITT provider;

Lead peer-to-peer professional and leadership development and CPD;

Identify and develop leadership potential (succession planning and talent management);

Provide support for other schools;

Designate and broker specialist leaders of education (SLEs);

Engage in research and development activity;

High quality teaching and learning is the core theme throughout all of the above.


National Governance Association

The Circle Trust as part of the Core Offer to Local Advisory boards buys a “gold” MAT membership.  This allows Advisors, Trustees and Members to learn from good practice governance at a national level.

School Improvement visits

Each school within the Trust will be entitled to and will accept a minimum of 2 visits per academic year.

 The purpose of the visits 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 a forum for school improvement good practice sharing;
  • 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.

School Improvement Reviews also contribute to assessment of need and the allocation of resources. Entitlement to school improvement time is allocated following negotiation and is typically as follows:

Minimum Officer Time Allocation (per annum) including the Annual Visit 


Ali Brown

Director of School Improvement