The Thomas Lord Audley School

Thinking of Joining Us? - Frequently Asked Questions

How much autonomy does a school retain?

This is the key question for any school joining a Multi-Academy Trust. All schools in The Sigma Trust have full cultural autonomy. There is no imposed change of name, uniform or logo. We want each school to retain their history and identity within the community they serve. All schools within Sigma are expected to work in collaboration to ensure that best practice becomes shared practice. The Executive Team of head teachers works together to share ideas and agree what best practice to adopt.

What support for leadership does the Trust give?

A great deal. The Trust has a large central team that includes Finance, HR and Payroll functions and takes pressure off of Headteachers in regards to these services. Strategic Leads have been appointed to oversee all key curriculum areas and provide extensive support for school based subject leaders. As a large Trust located in a tight geographical area we are able to provide rapid and effective support as required.

How does the Trust retain staff?

By building strong collaborative cultures. The Sigma Trust offers opportunities to work across Trust schools to expand leadership experience and build up a strong career profile. We are developing a career path for all staff and provide the support and training necessary to support each colleague’s aspirations.

What is the Trusts top priority?

To ensure that no child is left behind

Will staff be compelled to work at other Trust schools?

No, the Trust provides opportunities for staff to be seconded, shadow or work in other schools for short or longer periods of time but only if they wish to do so and with support of their headteacher. Many staff have taken these opportunities and have seen their careers flourish as a result.

Are there opportunities to share jobs across schools?

Yes, but only if the individual member of staff and school headteacher supports it. Such opportunities allow staff to share their specialism amongst a wider range of students. This includes staff employed in 11-16 schools have access to Sixth Form teaching.

Would existing staff be TUPED across to the Trust?

Yes, staff are protected by TUPE for as long as they remain at the school.

Would the Trust make any changes to national pay and conditions?

No. The Trust will honour the national teachers’ pay and conditions and pensions arrangements for as long as they continue to exist. We will also ensure the LGBS arrangements stay in place for support staff and their pay and conditions are preserved. We will recognise continuous service for all staff joining Sigma.

Does the Trust recognise Trade Unions?

Yes. The Trust has established a Trade Union Recognition Agreement based on TUC model policy that has been signed by all unions linked to schools. There is a firmly established Joint Consultative Committee of regional union reps that meet termly with the Trust to iron out any issues, agree policies and establish strong employee relations.

What will happen to the governors?

The Trust firmly agrees in local governance. Each academy is attached to a Local Governing Body made up of between 9 and 15 members, including at least two parents. We ensure that all LGBs have members with the relevant skills required to carry out such an important role. Additional training and support is provided. The Scheme of Delegation attached to our Governance section of this website provides more details.

Does becoming an academy change our relationship with the LA?

Yes, the LA is no longer directly responsible for the school’s performance and has significantly reduced powers of intervention. However, our Trust works closely with the LA and our heads continue to attend meetings.

Would pupils be selected?

No. We are firmly opposed to any form of selection and operate a non-selective admissions policy for all our academies and will continue to do so in the future.

What percentage of the budget would the Trust retain?

4.5% of the General Annual Grant. The level of support that schools receive for that amount is significant. As stated above this includes access to a highly skilled and experienced teams linked to Finance, HR and Payroll services. Estates management in terms is also run centrally although site teams remain attached to each site. A common approach is being developed to ICT to ensure smooth transfer of files and information between sites. There is significant education support via the CEO, Director of Education and Primary Executive Lead.

How will the Trust support building and site improvements?

The Trust has an annual School Condition Allocation to support all its schools that is linked to priorities identified via building condition surveys. Such work identified as well as the major expansion projects that are underway in many of our academies are all overseen by the Chief Operations Officer. Schools retain their own site and caretaking capacity.

Does the Trust make a profit?

No. That is not allowed by law and trusts are subject to scrutiny through audit and their funding agreement with the DfE.

Would the school receive legal support?

Yes. We have helped many schools through the conversion process and our partner legal advisers have an excellent track record. There will be no cost to the school for this work.

How will the project be managed?

The Trust will provide a Project manager to carry out most of the work leaving the school to focus on teaching and learning. The process will not be a significant additional burden.

How will the consultation be managed?

The Trust has strong experience in this area and will ensure all stakeholders are fully engaged.