DDAT Offer to Schools

DDAT Offer to Schools

DDAT is committed to providing quality services and appropriate support to all the academies within the DDAT family.

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.

School improvement

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.

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Areas of support
  • Bespoke advice, guidance and support for school improvement and maximising achievement; this can include help with identifying priorities for the school and putting together a School Improvement Plan or short-term action plan. Follow up work would involve monitoring and evaluation against such plans.
  • Analysis of a comprehensive range of pupil performance data and access to expert advice and guidance on its use.
  • Advice, guidance and support to quality assure and develop teaching and learning.
  • Professional development and support for leadership teams and governors for in-school assessment, tracking of pupil progress and raising achievement in the context of national floor standards.
  • Support for school self-evaluation in line with the current Ofsted framework.
  • Coordinating learning networks to support professional development and school improvement.
  • Targeted monitoring, evaluation and developmental feedback on teaching and learning.
  • Pre and post-Ofsted support including support for monitoring visits.
  • Support in using external quality assurance frameworks including gaining accreditation as appropriate.
  • Quality assure and validate HT and SLT School Self Evaluation through carrying out joint monitoring activities.
  • Help to present SEF or SES.
  • Professional dialogue with HT, SLT, Chair of Governors or sub-committees around barriers, priorities, strategies and solutions.
  • Agree the School’s Ofsted category (Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate).
  • Signpost to highly effective settings, provision and sources of training.
  • Termly Head Teacher School Improvement Briefings.
  • Develop Senior and Middle Leaders.
  • School Improvement written reports on key areas such as achievement or teaching and learning.
  • Whole school reviews.
  • Governor training on RAISE Online, the scrutiny of internal data and the triangulation of evidence gathered through monitoring activities.
  • Deployment of NLEs, LLEs or executive headteachers into some of our schools to give the additional support needed.
  • Involvement in the recruitment of HTs, Senior Leaders or teachers.
  • Head Teacher Performance Management.
  • Assist the Head Teacher in the Performance Management of SLT and teachers.


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:

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Areas of support
  • Regular planned meetings with the academy Head Teacher and academy lead Finance Administrator.
  • Providing advice to the Head Teacher and the Governing Body on changes, both National and Local, which will affect the National Funding Formula and the implications of these changes for the academy.
  • Advising the Head Teacher and Governing Body on the development and implementation of strategic financial plans for the academy, usually up to a maximum of five years.
  • Production/review of Staffing Projections (independent check to compare to academy information).
  • Production of the academy budget plan, including presentation to local Governing Body if required.
  • Maternity Pay, advice and monitoring.
  • Advising, implementing and monitoring the budgetary allocations associated with support services within the academies.
  • The sharing of good practice to maximise the resources available.
  • Completion of Statutory Returns to the DfE/ESFA as appropriate.
  • The monitoring of income and expenditure on the schools accounting system (Sage).
  • Ensuring that the academies meet all the current and future requirements of regulations and standards associated with FMGS (in the first year) and audit as per DfE requirements.
  • Implementation of/advice on Best Value.
  • Ensuring adequate financial controls/systems are in place and maintained to reduce financial risks.
  • Provision of advice and guidance in relation to Capital budgets.
  • Advice on the termly CENSUS returns to maximise funding.
  • Undertaking/reviewing monthly bank reconciliations.
  • Production of monthly/termly returns as appropriate e.g. VAT reports; cash flow statements; income and expenditure from the trial balance.
  • Production of Year-End Workbook/Accounts for DfE and Auditors.
  • Reconciliation/review of VAT/salary control accounts.
  • Advice and guidance on cheque book/BACS procedures to ensure good practice.
  • Providing advice and guidance on the management/accounting for the use of debit cards.

Human resources

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.

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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):

  • Disciplinary and grievance matters.
  • Performance management.
  • Sickness absence and statutory leave.
  • Day-to-day HR-related management issues.
  • Retirements.
  • Recruitment.
  • Resignations.
  • Strategic assistance regarding negotiations and consultations when varying terms of employment.

The HR team will complete regular visits to each academy to discuss any ongoing or upcoming issues, which will require HR assistance.

Site and buildings

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:

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  • Condition projects.
  • Compliance projects – to ensure buildings are compliant with relevant legislation.
  • Safeguarding projects – often providing additional security measures or remodelling of pedestrian/vehicle access points.
  • Emergency asbestos works.
  • Block replacement/refurbishment.
  • Component replacement – e.g. windows, doors, roofs, boilers and toilets.
  • Energy efficiency projects.
  • Boiler and heating system projects.
  • Renewable energy.
  • Lighting projects.
  • Roof, window and curtain walling/cladding projects.
  • Kitchen and dining facilities improvements.
  • Access and specialist facilities for pupils with SEND.
  • Other refurbishments – e.g. general refurbishment of classrooms.
  • Improvements to external areas.
  • Demolition.
  • Expansion projects.

Health and Safety

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:

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  • Solution-based Health and Safety advice, assistance and support. Acting as the school/Trust ‘appointed competent person’ for Health and Safety.
  • The development of school-specific Health and Safety policies and procedures.
  • Polite and reliable telephone advice available 9am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday. Guaranteed response within 24 hours to all Health and Safety queries.
  • A school Health and Safety audit will be completed to develop a management action plan. Support will be given to implement any specified requirements identified in the audit.
  • ‘Hands-on’ support in the development and simplification of school-specific risk assessments.
  • Proactive support will be offered for school Health and Safety inspections.
  • Assistance with building-related Health and Safety management such as fire risk assessment, asbestos, safety glazing, Equality Act, etc.
  • Support and assistance for the School Site Manager/Premises Officer.
  • Liaison, assistance and support when dealing with enforcement agencies, such as the Health and Safety Executive, Fire Authority, etc.
  • Attendance at School Governor meetings to provide advice and support when making Health and Safety decisions that affect school activities.
  • Access to a range of Health and Safety training i.e. COSHH, asbestos and legionella awareness, fire awareness etc. (Please see training programme).
  • Support with RIDDOR incident/accident investigations.
  • Targeted audits for outdoor play equipment, PE, Design & Technology, radiation, school science, etc.
  • School staff risk assessment training to develop a positive Health and Safety culture.
  • Support with Occupational Health referrals for staff returning to work i.e. stress risk assessments etc.
  • Membership of CLEAPSS with full access to guidance and risk assessment.
  • Signposting to other specialist areas i.e. staff counselling, asbestos survey, legionella risk assessment etc.
  • Specific tailored on-site training for small groups included i.e. working at height/ladder training, evac chair warden etc.
  • Access to ‘bank’ of school/college-specific risk assessments.
  • Educational visits advice, assistance and support.

Data Protection

The Trust’s appointed Data Protection Officer (DPO) deals with all enquiries regarding data protection issues (including GDPR compliance).

The DPO’s role includes:

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  • Educating DDAT and DDAT employees on important compliance requirements.
  • Training staff involved in data processing.
  • Conducting audits to ensure compliance and address potential issues proactively.
  • Serving as the point of contact between the company and GDPR Supervisory Authorities.
  • Monitoring performance and providing advice on the impact of data protection efforts.
  • Maintaining comprehensive records of all data processing activities conducted by the company, including the purpose of all processing activities, which must be made public on request.
  • Interfacing with data subjects to inform them about how their data is being used, their rights to have their personal data erased, and what measures the company has put in place to protect their personal information.

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.

Hub support

The Hub team works with the DDAT Board, liaises with the Department for Education and oversees the academies in the Trust. Their role is:

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  • To oversee the academy Trust’s planned and sustainable expansion and ensure the sustainability of a long-term model.
  • To support each academy and ensure high quality provision and support, best value and economies of scale within each academy.
  • To oversee the support services team and to ensure the services are of high quality.

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.

Governor support

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:

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  • Access to email and telephone support and advice.
  • Support and advice for dealing with complaints.
  • Clerks’ Fact Sheets.
  • GovernorHub membership and support (training/guidance available).
  • Access to FAQs and resources on GovernorHub.
  • Briefing sessions for Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Clerks (two a year held in South and Central regions).
  • Regular newsletters.
  • Model Agendas (one each term).
  • Support for new clerks and new chairs.
  • One free place on New Governor Induction including a copy of the NGA Welcome to Governance handbook (worth £100).
  • Package rate for all Governor courses.

GovernorHub membership

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:

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  • Keep up to date with the latest news and announcements from local and national sources.
  • Have private online discussions with your fellow governors.
  • Plan and book your meetings and school events in a shared calendar and link this to your personal diary on PC, tablet or phone.
  • Store all of your governing body documents in one place.
  • Find key data about your school via links to local and national sources. Look at data for similar schools or search for other schools.
  • Browse and book training courses from your Local Authority Governor Support team.

Benefits of GovernorHub

  • Governing body noticeboard and discussion page.
  • Shared storage for all your GB documents, minutes and policies.
  • Events calendar for GB members, at your fingertips or linked to your smartphone.
  • Latest national news for schools and governors.
  • Your GB membership list, committee membership and key roles.
  • Governing Body constitution record and vacancy report.
  • Quick Governing Body health check for key Ofsted criteria.
  • iPad app for viewing your documents offline enabling your meetings to be paperless.
  • Latest local news for schools and governors.
  • Integrated support from your Local Authority Governor Support team.
  • Ability to book training courses online with the LA.


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.


Interested in being a DDAT Academy?