Reviewing Strategy And Governance
As a growing MAT, we’re keen to ensure that we include time and space for self-review. Using external resources as part of this exercise can be very useful. Norman Rose, Chair of the Board at Schoolsworks, explains how we are using the outcome of a recent external governance review to better position our Trust.
Strategic direction leads growth. Our current Strategic Review examines what is happening now and proposes options for the future. Plus ça change; plus c’est la même chose.
I was appointed Chair of Trustees in July 2020. As the Trust headed into its tenth year in 2021 it seemed a good opportunity to review current governance and strategy using an external expert. We chose Roy Blackwell, Master of the Worshipful Company of Educators, who has a wealth of experience in both education and educational policy. The review began in May, and Roy submitted his report two months later. Since then, we’ve been working on the implementation of his recommendations, some of which has inevitably taken longer than originally planned due to COVID restrictions.
In the midst of this review we also welcomed four new trustees to the Board – Amanda Blackburn, Malcolm Dennett, David Tow and Graham Tiley – whose input into our deliberations has been objective, as newcomers, and highly valuable, considerably broadening experience within the Board of trustees.
The first area considered is our Vision, Mission, Aims and Objectives. These needed to be updated in light of the growth of the Trust and our aspirations for the future. They’ve now been agreed and will be publicly available in September. In short they’ll set the foundations for all that follows.
We also studied the role of Members and Trustees; both terms have been developed somewhat by the DfE over recent years. Members now have a much clearer focus on holding the Trustees and the Chair to account on an annual basis, acting with ‘eyes on, ears open and hands off’, and meeting Trust leaders on a termly basis.
Local delegation is an important issue for the future. Is the current system fit for the future as we seek to continue to grow? Malcolm Dennett chairs a Working Group which will monitor this over the coming months and suggest amendment to or replacement of the current policy.
Growth is vital for the health of the trust, but not growth at any cost or for any reason. Graham Tiley now chairs our Growth Working Group which will help us to develop our future strategy and review likely targets and opportunities for consolidation.
We’re also keen to sell the good news stories about our Trust to the wider public and are currently reviewing our collateral both for the Trust and individual schools so that we can make the most impact when speaking with others, and through our various websites and handouts. A small Working Group is responsible for this and will report to the Board later this term.
Finally, we understand that our buildings are fundamental to our ability to provide a high-quality environment within which our teachers can deliver learning and where they feel that they have the resources to do so. We’re currently developing an Estate Management Strategy to ensure that all our pupils are able to receive the help and encouragement which they need in the premises they deserve.
As you can see, your trustees are not sitting about doing nothing! We’re each actively engaged in working on your behalf to ensure that we remain the MAT of choice in West Sussex.