In a time where our country appears to be looking in on itself, it is ever more important that school leaders remain outward facing. Looking for challenge and support from those beyond our own organisation is both energising and affirming. As a headteacher, I was involved in a range of collaborations across schools, supported by local networks, teaching schools and trusts. As a CEO of a MAT, there seems to be fewer examples of collaboration across trusts. This blog shares the emerging stories from collaborative work from the newly formed Kent Multi Academy Trust Alliance.
The Kent MAT Alliance was formed in 2018 with nine academy trusts and a teaching school alliance. The group was formed to develop opportunities for the CEOs to network and support one another. Being a leader in any organisation can be a lonely place and it was the vision of the group to form relationships that would nurture support for one another and our trusts. Here are a three steps we have made in the past six months since forming the Kent MAT Alliance.
1. Set out your terms of engagement
We started by engaging an education consultant to coordinate the set up of the alliance. The consultant brought a wealth of knowledge to the table and helped draw together a group of like minded CEOs and a teaching school alliance. We met together and formed our terms of reference. This helped us bond as a group and understand our collective vision for the alliance. This led to the production of a logo and vision statement 'better together' that reflects our alliance's belief that together we are stronger.
2. Make things happen
We set out to put on meaningful events for us as CEOs and for our teams across schools.
With the support of Queenborough Teaching School Alliance, our NQTs and post NQTs have met across our trusts to supplement the NQT training offered, building relationships and strengthening teaching for our fledgling teachers.
Three CEOs have met to trial a trust self review system based on the DfE MAT Development Programme . This has led to three in depth reviews with CEOs and trustees offering rigorous challenge for one another across trusts. The outcome of the self review discussions led the CEOs to build a shared action plan to strengthen practice within their own trust. Being prepared for deeper external challenge has led to a strengthening of our own systems, building confidence for future inspections, Regional School Commissioner reviews and the potential of Ofsted summary evaluations of trusts.
We have set up a trust business manager group. TBMs meet and discuss opportunities for shared procurement, opportunities to share key management information systems and engage in professional discussions about business, finance and HR.
We have offered out training events for headteachers and governors on IDSR analysis. Utilising the knowledge base of our own system leaders across the alliance to make the training bespoke and purposeful.
3. Share what works
Our next step is to share our work. We cannot work in silos in education and with our vision of being 'better together' we are happy to share what works and what hasn't worked with our alliance. Knowing the educational landscape is a bumpy place that shifts beneath our feet, we need to remain nimble and take confident steps in order to navigate the winding path ahead.
I would love to hear from you about how you have developed collaborative work across trusts.