How does a LIFE school benefit from being part of the LIFE Education Trust?
Every Multi Academy Trust (MAT) receives funding directly from the Department for Education (DfE) via the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) rather than through the Local Authority (LA).
The LIFE Education Trust MAT (LIFE) (currently) retains either 4.5% or £30,000, whichever is greater, for a range of centralised, standardised and bespoke services to its schools. These allow LIFE to take advantage of economies of scale and economies of time, to provide school improvement and to ensure best practice in every area is shared.
The amount retained is determined by the Board on an annual basis before the start of each financial year following discussion and consultation with the school leaders and Local Governing Bodies (LGBs) of each school.
Core support 2019/20
LIFE provides the following services to every school as part of the funding retained:
Leadership and Management Support
- The support and expertise of an experienced CEO to act as Accounting Officer for the Trust. The CEO carries out their responsibilities as Accounting Officer as detailed in the current Academies Financial Handbook.
- The CEO hosts a half termly meeting of heads of school and a termly Trust team meeting, attends LGB meetings at least once a year, oversees the appraisal process for all Executive team and leads on strategic development of the Trust.
- The CEO receives and supports heads through weekly newsletters, face to face meetings at least once a month and regular telephone contact.
- The CEO attends LGB meetings when invited or when necessary for the dissemination of ideas and information
- Local Governing Body Support
- The Trust pays for National Governance Association Gold Membership for all LGB members as well as access for all governors to the NGA’s e-learning resources
- Appointments to the LGB are through the Trust who offer induction and Entry Interviews
- LGB Chairs and Vice Chairs have regular contact with the CEO as well as termly meetings
- Specialist training from the Directors of Operation and Education is available once a year for each LGB
- All clerking support is provided and funded from the central Trust
- Termly Clerk training meetings are held
- Head of school support
- A complimentary Nuffield Health 360 check up in the Autumn Term each year
- A complimentary Colour Me personality profile review
- A £150 annual leadership book allowance
- Half termly Coaching sessions with an expert impartial coach from an external company with a proven track record of success
- Oversight of the appraisal process including arranging meetings, external validation and target setting
- Attendance at half termly Heads and Headteachers Trust meetings
- Leadership Conference
- Free attendance for all senior leaders and governors at the annual LIFE leadership conference, a training and networking update event provided by the Trust with external input.
- Director of Operations
The support and expertise of an experienced full time Director of Operations who oversees all the operational aspects of the Trust and is available for school leaders and LGB chairs to speak to either in person, by telephone or email.
- Finance Support
The support of a full time Finance Manager to provide financial support and advice to headteachers, LGB Chairs and finance staff in each school. This will include:
- Budget planning and implementation annually
- Review of monthly budget outturn and month end reconciliations every month including a full face to face meeting
- Assistance with preparation of reports for LGB meetings
- Assistance with accounts processing
- Completion of financial statutory returns
- Setting up and reviewing of internal control procedures
- Benchmarking of all key activities as required for academies
- Management of the external audit process
- ‘Helpdesk’ support 5 days per week
Payroll services to include all 3rd party transactions at no cost.
- Calculation of gross and net pay including PAYE, NI, sickness, maternity, paternity and other statutory and voluntary deductions
- Review of draft payroll reports to identify discrepancies
- Provision of monthly reports and analysis
- Production of final payslips
- HMRC and pension deductions paid and returns completed
- Production of P45’s, P60’s and P11’s
- Payroll advise provided to employees
Support for Financial systems which includes telephone support
- Telephone support on all financial matters and remote support where necessary
- Regular software updates
- Provision of salary calculators for assistance with budget planning
- Access to staff with extensive experience in school financial management
Provision of an internal audit service across the trust at no cost to the academies
- Liaising with the internal audit provider to put in place a timetable and internal audit plan that fulfils the requirements of the Academies Financial Handbook
- Working with schools to ensure an appropriate action plan is in place to address areas requiring improvement and regular monitoring of the action plan
Provision of year-end audit and financial statements
- Liaison with auditors at the planning stage, setting the timetable and agreeing risk areas
- Assistance with preparation of information required for the audit and the preparation of the financial statements (for example fixed asset and depreciation calculations)
- Assistance with the processing of audit journals and ensuring the correct reflection of opening balances
- Liaising with the auditors on completion and finalisation of the financial statements and disclosures
- Completing the academies accounts directions following the finalisation of the financial statements
- Ensuring all ESFA deadlines are met
- IT support services
The support and expertise of an experienced full time ICT Manager who oversees all the operational aspects of Trust ICT and is available for school leaders and LGB chairs to speak to either in person, by telephone or email.
- Assistance with the installation of new hardware and software
- Ensuring security and compliance across the Trust
- Software updates and ongoing maintenance of the IT systems
- Opportunities for MAT wide procurement and economies of scale
- Access to staff with extensive experience in IT within a school environment
- No need for expensive in-house or outsourced IT resource
- GDPR support
- School website platform created and updated for no cost
- Human Resources Support
The support and expertise of an experienced full time Human Resources Support Manager/People Officer who oversees all the operational aspects of Trust Human Resources and is available for school leaders and LGB chairs to speak to either in person, by telephone or email.
- Access to legal advice via the Human Resources Manager or Director of Operations
- Access to online HR Hub for guidance, process and template information
- Support preparing and writing reorganisation documentation and attendance to support or present at all necessary reorganisation meetings
- Checking content and format of recruitment adverts for all staff
- Offer advice on disciplinary and capability meetings including support in person for more serious cases
- Complimentary Colour me Personality Profiling for all senior leaders with the option to have staff and pupil profiles for significantly reduced price by a fully trained Trust leader
- Free Flu jabs for all staff
- Christmas Hampers for each school every December
- Support with succession planning including access to the Succession Planning Policy and Trust Retention Strategy
- Free access for all staff to the annual BBQ and Carol Concert
- Support with requesting and reviewing references for all new members of staff
- Advice on the Induction Process including pre-employment checks and support with the support staff probation period and how this should be conducted
- Support with new and revised Contracts including any pay related documentation
- Advice on supporting Staff Wellbeing
- Support and guidance regarding Staff Absence and the correct absence monitoring procedures including OH Referrals
- Support for School Workforce Census return
- Support for DBS checking service including new and renewal checks
- Checking of Single Central Record and conducting SCR audit checks
- Guidance regarding Bluesky, the performance management tool, and the Appraisal Cycle for both teaching and support staff
- Training support and guidance for office staff including one to one support where a colleague is new to post
An ongoing programme of procurement services to realise economies of scale across the trust
- Further development of a trust wide approach to procurement to increase bargaining power and ensure value for money is achieved for all schools within the trust
- Communications and marketing support
The support and expertise of an experienced part time Marketing Officer who is available for school leaders to speak to either in person, by telephone or email.
- Support in promoting all of the school’s social media presence.
- Promotional support for school events and activities via websites/leaflets/adverts.
- Briefing and production management of school promotional material covering all advice with schools only paying for printing costs.
Educational support is led by the Director of Education, who is an experienced senior leader and former Local Authority senior school improvement advisor. He provides direct support and expertise to schools and school leaders, in person, by telephone or email, as well as overseeing all the educational aspects of the Trust and leading on the structures and procedures that make school leadership easier and supports school improvement.
Areas of educational support include:
- Provision of clear documentation and support to develop school improvement planning, including an “easy to use” School Development Plan proforma and continuous support with the preparation and consultation processes for the SDP.
- Support with the completion of the Trust’s Healthchecks, which are a proven way of self-evaluating school performance, helping to prepare for Ofsted and strengthening school leadership, especially governance.
- Short and long term support for preparation for Ofsted, including the production of a single page SEF based on the Healthchecks.
- SEND support from a qualified senior SENCO including support in person, by telephone or email.
- A PE specialist to assist and work with schools PE staff as well as coordinating participation in Trust events including on average at least one day per school per half term.
- An Ethos Manager to support schools’ improvement of pupils’ Personal Development, through the embedding of school and Trust values and rolling out the LIFE Passport and LIFE Ambassadors programmes, as well as a variety of specialist trust-wide events, such as the annual LIFE Bake Off.
- The organisation of the annual LIFE Celebration Evening, which includes the LIFE Pupil Scholarship Award scheme, with two Year 6 pupils in every school receiving a £100 achievement award.
- The support and expertise of an experienced International Coordinator who will assist with International School Award applications and both Erasmus and British Council applications.
- Leadership opportunities to visit other schools and participate in the LIFE peer review programme.
- Support in narrowing the gaps for disadvantaged pupils and for the effective use of the Pupil Premium Grant to maximise impact.
- Career opportunities and dedicated leadership training for new and aspiring middle and senior leaders.
- Training and support for leaders in target setting and data analysis.
- Training and support for governors in understanding and discharging their roles with confidence.
- The awarding of two £1,000 grants annually for teacher research projects, the findings of which are rolled out to all schools.
The following additional support is also available:
- Finance, Premises and HR Healthchecks to be completed by a Trust senior leader who will write the documentation in consultation with the school’s senior leaders, be present at the meeting with the Link Governor and support their presentation at the LGB.
Total Cost £1,200 p.a for each Healthcheck. £3000 for all three.
- Compliance monitoring to include the completion and maintenance of the Smartlog system.
- Minor maintenance items carried out.
- Engagement and supervision of contractors where necessary.
Total cost £2,400 p.a. (based on 1 day per month, 12 days per year)
Additional days will be charged at an agreed daily rate (depending on level of experience required).
Additional ICT support
- Works required in addition to the core provision of ICT support services set out above will be charged at a daily rate of £250 per day.
Travel and Subsistence Where necessary, mileage will be charged separately at 46.9p per mile for ALL support visits (both core and additional).