Schools in SSMAT benefit from a high level of support from the Core Team. As a small, local MAT, it is possible to take a very bespoke and flexible approach to the way that support is provided for schools. By helping to solve problems related to finance, HR, premises, Health and Safety and Safeguarding, headteachers are better placed to focus squarely on teaching and learning and the personal development of the young people in their schools.
The Core Team provides a specialist support infrastructure that:
- supports headteachers in addressing school improvement priorities;
- provides constructive assurance of the quality of teaching and learning;
- helps schools to participate in effective education networks;
- identifies key individuals and groups that can support ongoing improvements;
- ensures that skills, expertise and capacity are shared across the Trust;
- assists in preparing for Ofsted inspections and responding to their outcomes;
- provides ‘best value’ procurement and deployment of resources;
- provides consultancy support with issues relating to HR, legal services, estates management and ICT provision;
- manages tenders and negotiates contracts for support services, including: grounds; catering; cleaning; and insurance.
- generates new income and improved facilities and accommodation through bid-writing;
- ensures compliance with legislation relating to finance, information management, health and safety, safeguarding and employment law;
- provides professional advice on all aspects of finance and business management;
- supports and advises on staff recruitment; and
- provides a payroll service and staff benefits package.
The Stephen Sutton Multi-Academy Trust funds these central strategic operations through a top-slice of 3.5% of each school’s General Annual Grant (excluding dedicated pupil premium and sixth form bursary funding). [Nationally, 5% has become a more typical top-slice figure]. Local authority schools academising to convert into the MAT receive funds that (as a community school) had previously been held back by the LA to fund central operations. The package of support provided by the Trust is itemised in the SSMAT Core Services document.