The support offer is evolving as DDAT work in partnership with academies and providers to enhance services and respond to any areas of need.
The core DDAT support services are outlined below and will replace core services when a school becomes an academy. Some services will be tailored to the needs of the academy and these will be discussed as part of the conversion conversation.
The School Improvement Team (SIT) has a structured approach to school improvement. An educational audit of the school prior to conversion will highlight areas where, and to what level, the MAT board, through the Head of School Improvement, will support the school post-conversion. The level of support will depend on the category which either Ofsted or the MAT board place the school.
The SIT has developed clear criteria based on Ofsted/DfE requirements and local knowledge in order to place a school at one of three levels based on its developmental state. The level will not necessarily be the same as the most recent OFSTED judgment but will be based on ongoing assessment resulting from school improvement visits. There will be at least six such visits each year by a Senior School Improvement Officer and the Head of School Improvement, with additional visits from the wider team in areas such as governance, finance, HR etc.
The School Improvement team has significant headship experience, particularly in Church Schools. They have a proven track record of bringing about the necessary improvements needed to remove a school from special measures but have also worked with schools across all four of the Ofsted categories ensuring that schools constantly improve and that this is recognised by Ofsted as they move from one category to another.
On conversion, schools often cite finance and operations as a key concern for moving to an academy model. As such, DDAT has invested in developing a highly skilled and knowledgeable team to support schools in this area.
The following finance support is provided by the DDAT Finance Manager and Chief Financial Officer:
The DDAT HR team liaises directly with schools in the first instance on all HR enquiries. Through our legal partner, the DDAT team have access to additional capacity through a large and comprehensive bank of specialists in areas such as employment law, pensions and data protection and are able to call upon the expertise of a Barrister when required.
The HR team work closely with the school to ensure staff are being supported and challenged where appropriate to enhance performance and to address any issues at an early stage. From the outset and as part of the service, the HR team carry out a full health check of employment documentation (prior to conversion) to ensure it is legally compliant, consistent with the objectives of DDAT and communicated and implemented within the school.
This HR service provides the school with the reassurance that there is never any hesitation or barriers from obtaining advice. It consists of telephone advice regarding day-to-day HR matters, such as (this list is not intended to be exhaustive):
The HR team will complete regular visits to each academy to discuss any ongoing or upcoming issues, which will require HR assistance.
Annual site visits to each DDAT school include a review of any potential capital works that would be eligible for funding. Funding is available for the following types of capital project:
The DDAT Health and Safety service (through our partner YMD Boon) provides Head Teachers and School Governors with the reassurance that they are complying with statutory Health and Safety requirements. The service ensures that a sensible and realistic approach is applied to Health and Safety management at the school in meeting legal requirements. The service is provided by an experienced Health and Safety professional with a proven track record of supporting/assisting local authority and academy schools to raise Health and Safety standards.
What the service provides:
The Trust’s appointed Data Protection Officer (DPO) deals with all enquiries regarding data protection issues (including GDPR compliance).
The DPO’s role includes:
The Trust’s DPO assists schools in dealing with all potential and ongoing data breaches, as well as advising on day to day issues and breach prevention. The Trust’s Operations Team holds a central record of all data breaches (which is reported termly to the Trust Board and liaises with relevant bodies such as the ICO and Action Fraud).
The DPO should be contacted if you have any concerns regarding data security, potential data breaches or would like general advice on compliance and training.
The Hub team works with the DDAT Board, liaises with the Department for Education and oversees the academies in the Trust. Their role is:
The hub team will provide half-termly visits, as appropriate, in the academies the first year to support the transition process. From the second year, visits are termly, however, the hub team will meet schools more regularly if needed.
The Trust COO is the key contact if there is an emergency.
If queries or questions are of a specialist nature, for example, Finance or HR, schools should contact the support service colleagues directly but copy the COO into any email. The hub team will support schools to resolve any queries and will work in partnership with school support staff.
DDAT is passionate about Local Governing Bodies and retaining the school’s link to the community that Governing Bodies provide. To support DDAT Governing Bodies in carrying out their role to oversee the effective management of their school, our governor support service provides:
GovernorHub was invented by school governors to make life as a school governor as simple as possible. As a governor it gives you the information and tools that you need – online and instantly:
JustAsk is a legal support service (delivered by our partners Michelmores LLP) that allows DDAT schools to pick up the phone to a familiar voice and talk through an issue. The legal team offer sound, practical advice that gives schools the confidence to deal with any issue.
JustAsk gives schools access to a named member of the Michelmores Education Team. They will always be available and always respond in a timely manner. Over the years, Michelmores have worked closely with schools to develop their understanding of the ever-changing education sector. The legal answer is not always the right answer. It’s about providing a safe, workable solution. JustAsk deals with everyday legal and commercial queries faced by schools as well as the more obscure challenges faced in the modern world. From Facebook posts to nose piercings to allowing children to bring their dogs into school, they will listen and advise on anything.
It is important to understand the sort of queries the team can support. The underlying premise is that anything that can be dealt within half an hour will be covered by the service. That said, the team are flexible and will always take a sensible approach when dealing with queries.