Joining Swift Academies
EXPRESSING AN INTEREST
Any school that is interested in exploring the possibility of joining Swift Academies should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A member/s of the team will then be happy to speak to your Governing Body about what joining Swift Academies would mean and how the Trust operates. The Board of Trustees will be informed of any schools that have expressed an interest. Following a meeting with your Governing Body and confirmation that the Governing Body would like to proceed to join Swift Academies, your school will need to confirm your decision to us and then complete the online registration of interest form on the DfE website.
Six steps to conversion are outlined on the DfE website; the registration of interest is part of step 1. Once you have registered an interest with the DfE they will get in touch with you and give you the name of your DfE project lead. Your DfE project lead will work with you throughout the conversion process and answer any questions you may have. Once your application is accepted, key dates throughout the process are outlined on the DfE’s Academy conversion: important dates page.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR SWIFT ACADEMIES BEFORE SUPPORTING A SCHOOL’S APPLICATION TO CONVERT
A key consideration for Swift Academies Trustees is to weigh up the long term needs and viability of the school and whether it will be best served by becoming an Academy. They will also need to consider whether Swift Academies has the resources and capacity to support the school effectively at that particular time. We therefore carry out due diligence on the current performance of the school, whichever route they may be taking. The Regional Schools Commissioner and his/her Head Teacher Board, as well as the Trust, will need to consider the value that both the converting school and existing academies in the Trust gain from the application.
Due diligence is intended to be a fully collaborative process and not an inspection. The Swift Academies team will work with members of the school’s leadership team to review key areas of the school’s work and to come to an agreed set of evaluations.
The process will vary according to circumstances and school location but could include a visit to the school of up to two days, working with the Head Teacher, Finance Officer and Governor Representatives to establish levels of achievement, quality of provision and staffing, financial overview and the capacity of the leadership team to secure improvement. In advance of the school visit, the MAT representative will review any relevant evidence available. This may include the school’s website, school’s self-evaluation, improvement plan and performance data.
During the visit, MAT representatives will work with school leaders to gather evidence at first hand and may engage in a range of agreed activities such as lesson visits, walk of the site, discussion with pupils, scrutiny of work, and review of financial statements. They will reflect, with key personnel, on the observations made and arrive at an agreed evaluation in each of the key areas identified on the summary form.
The outcomes of the due diligence exercise will be put together in a summary overview to be presented to Trustees for consideration before approval to proceed with the application for conversion. This information is therefore intended to provide information to all parties in order to inform decision-making and ongoing improvement planning. It is the intention of Swift Academies that all schools will be able to join the MAT but in some circumstances, plans and agreements will need to be put in place before formally joining the Trust.
The Trust operates a central fund in order to support the Trust Office and its central functions, and to provide a range of shared services. These services are provided to member schools for a contribution of no more than 5%.
The Trust endeavours to keep central overheads as low as possible and to secure favourable rates through its negotiating power and expertise for services that may also be available in addition to those provided by the Trust Dividend, should schools wish to take advantage of those rates.
As the number of academies in Swift Academies increases, and the income of the Trust increases, opportunities will be taken to review the provision of shared services and of back-office services in particular. These reviews will be performed in the context of the Trust’s need to ensure proper use of public funds, and the need to deliver value for money with improved quality in service provision. It is anticipated that Swift Academies will invest in the provision of some additional central services as the Trust grows, to remove costs from individual academies and provide more efficient and effective services for example site management costs shared across local small schools.
Swift Academies will ensure that all schools receive high quality improvement support that is bespoke and proportionate to need. Academy improvement support will come from a range of sources, this will include direct support from the CEO and the Education Development Partner and it will also include drawing on existing expertise from schools currently in the MAT as well as brokering external expertise where appropriate.
ACADEMY IMPROVEMENT PLAN
As soon as possible after conversion the Academy Improvement Lead will discuss the Academy’s Development Plan with the Head Teacher and the Chair of the Academy Governing Board to ensure that it is focused on the main priorities for improvement and includes any areas raised during the due diligence process . In most cases, it is likely that the school’s existing development plan will be ‘fit for purpose’ or may just require some minor adjustments.
In the case of academies that are sponsored by Swift Academies because the predecessor school was judged inadequate at the last Ofsted inspection, the CEO will write the improvement plan. This will be done in consultation with the Head Teacher and the Chair of the Local Governing Body. The improvement plan will identify how Swift Academies will prioritise the use of any additional funding it may receive such as the Academy Improvement Grant to bring about rapid improvement. It will also specify the support the MAT will provide and broker and will include a rigorous schedule of how the academy’s progress will be monitored and evaluated.