December 2019 edition: Introduction


Welcome to the new edition of Trust. I am pleased to provide my synopsis of the range of topical subjects covered in this issue.

In her lead article, Leora Cruddas, CEO of CST refers to Zook and Allen’s book The Founders Mentality in which they talk of the insurgent mission being one of the key features of the founders of successful organisations. She suggests that this theory can equally be successfully be applied to school trusts with the mission in this context being the relentless focus on putting children first.

 With the backdrop of the government continuing to find it very challenging to meet its recruitment targets for teachers, David Laws, Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute draws on the findings of their research which examines the scale of the teacher shortage and considers the factors that contribute to it including longer working hours and levels of pay.

Rebecca Boomer-Clark the Director of Secondary Education for Ark and Chair of Ambition Institute and Mark Gregory Ark’s Regional Director for Secondary Education in Birmingham talk about school improvement at scale and how a decade on from some of the most successful early free schools and academies having been heavily influenced by the work of KIPP, Uncommon and other Charter Management Organisations, we still have much to learn from our US colleagues.

Luke Sparkes, Executive Director of Dixons Academies Trust shares their Trust’s firm belief that the single greatest advantage any business can achieve is that of organisational health and how this is placed at the very heart of everything they do. They attribute their considerable success to having absolute clarity of purpose and share the four critical questions they asked themselves to help create and embed this clarity across their Trust.

Catherine Dottridge CFO of Tenax Schools Trust shares her view that striving to improve organisational effectiveness is a business imperative for school and trust leaders who wish to ensure long term success. She provides an insight into the McKinsey 7S model which she has effectively used for this purpose and looks at the steps involved in making sure that every part of a school trust works in harmony to achieve its organisational goals.

Chris Kenyon CEO of The Key shares some of the key findings of their report: Trust expansion – overcoming growing pains, which gives an insight both into the current state of affairs in the trust sector and into trust leaders’ growth plans for the future and the related decisions and challenges they face.

Sarah Haythornthwaite International Marketing Director of Renaissance Learning discusses the critical importance of a total top down commitment to closing the reading gap by gaining insights from school trust level assessment data or using research to inform intervention strategies.

Finally, in these times of political uncertainty when many trusts find themselves facing forceful intervention by the DfE when one of their academies gets into trouble, Roger Inman Partner and Head of Education at Stone King LLP, provides some clarity about the extent of the powers of the Department to intervene in this circumstance.

As ever I would like to take the opportunity to thank all concerned for their stimulating contributions to this edition of Trust – I hope you will find it of interest and of real value. We continue to welcome feedback from our growing readership both on the choice and value of the topics covered so far and suggestions regarding subjects that we may seek to cover in future editions.