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Strong collaboration, with shared accountability, leads to better progress and attainment for our pupils and support our academies to meet rising expectations.

  • School leaders and teachers network to share thinking, planning, best practice, learning from each other and tackling challenges together
  • Governors coming together to share strategic thinking, to combine skills and to support each other during challenging times
  • Pupils within CAT work together
  • Support staff come together to share expertise and challenges
  • Opportunities for parent involvement are shared and supported more effectively

Beliefs & Values for our Academy Improvement Strategy

When carrying out its academy improvement role Cheshire Academies Trust will:

  • Hold in regard the varying degree of autonomy of individual Trust academies, in line with their category of need and their readiness for self-improvement, valuing their self-evaluation and taking into consideration peer- evaluation, together with Principal updates on performance and priorities.
  • Create, maintain and foster strong relationships between academies and the Trust through Principal and Leadership learning networks
  • Promote a academy-led system as the principle driver for constructing sustainable academy improvement, for sharing good practice and for purposes of accountability.
  • Further the equality of opportunity across the Trust as a whole, aiming to eliminate discrimination through fostered, good relationships.  All Academies are expected to deliver a strong core offer for pupils.
  • Intervene for improvement at the earliest opportunity, ensuring effective diagnosis of areas of concern.
  • Commission/provide bespoke support and intervention programmes in line with an agreed plan, to eradicate the areas of concern as a matter of urgency
  • Encourage a genuine sense of shared responsibility with all partners, including children, parents and other stakeholders, in relation to behaviour for learning, attendance and wider areas such as safeguarding
  • Take into account the full range of factors that impact on pupil progress and attainment across all phases
  • Promote effective partnership and collaboration to identify, share and further develop outstanding practice
  • Support Academies in their provision for vulnerable learners, both within and beyond the academy setting
  • Ensure every child in the trust truly matters and their needs and aspirations remain central to all the decisions made

Core Support                                                                                                                                    

All Academies in the CAT will receive ‘core support’ from the Trust which will be six visits per year (one each half term) from the CEO.  The length of these visits will vary between half day and a whole day dependent on the needs of the individual academy and its ability to demonstrate its effectiveness in being a ‘self-improving academy’.  Additional support will be targeted by the Principal in line with the priorities the Trust or the academy has identified and recorded in the academy’s strategic plan (Raising Achievement Plan/Strategic Plan). Academies are required to utilise up to £5K funding within their budget each year to cover the cost of any additional CAT support required.


All ‘Core Support’ visits may focus on the following depending on the priorities identified through the academy’s own self-evaluation and quality assured by the CEO:

  • Whole academy standards, focussing on termly academy data analysis submitted via SOAP and updated through Insight online assessment system on a termly basis, including achievement and progress of vulnerable groups and other relevant data tracking/ monitoring priorities, including specific discussion of priority areas – EYFS outcomes, Y1 phonics, Y2 and Y6 assessments tasks and tests.
  • Leadership reviews on the impact of senior and middle leadership within an academy.
  • Collaborative assessments of the quality of teaching and learning alongside senior leaders to quality assure judgements and validate self-evaluation.
  • Review of academy improvement planning and moderation of the impact on pupil outcomes of actions. 
  • Moderation of academy Self-Evaluation Document.
  • Middle and Subject Leadership documentation and impact.
  • Review impact of initiatives and actions to improve behaviour and attendance.
  • Review of Trust Systems within academies, including termly Safeguarding audits and website compliance.

Recruitment and retention

Sharing approaches to recruitment and retention across our Trust, enables our academies to find different and flexible solutions to recruitment challenges, and where appropriate opportunities to share leaders, teachers and other staff. CAT invests in a collaboration fund that enables a programme of development that supports all staff. CAT school leaders have wider career progression opportunities and CAT is able to ‘grow its own’ future leaders through talent management programmes. Staff are given the opportunity to undertake secondments and experience new roles and responsibilities across the Trust.

Professional development

Shared professional development at all levels, including leadership development programmes, whether led by staff from one of the Trust’s academies or an external organisation. Our collaboration hubs from a teacher led structure to offer support and drive improvement across schools.

Economies of scale and financial efficiencies

With financial weight comes better purchasing power. The economies of scale and collective purchasing made possible within our Trust help our academies cope better with reducing budgets.


Financial structures

The Trust supports its academies to fulfil the statutory financial and reporting requirements that come with academisation. Academy Business Managers work within a clearly defined team structure that is led by the Director of Operations, to ensure the financial data that is provided to SLT’s and LGB’s is of a high quality and supports decision making. We use the Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning (ICFP) model to ensure each academy’s budget forecast effectively supports their development plans. Academy Business Managers provide internal financial data on a half termly basis and report to LGB’s each term. The Trust will meet with its academies on a biennial basis to undertake a financial review. In addition to providing services to its academies the central Trust fulfils a compliance and corporate function to ensure the Trust meets statutory reporting requirements and deadlines.

Universal Top Slice

The Trust is funded by a UTS that each academy pays on a termly basis. The current UTS for Cheshire Academies Trust is 5.5% of the General Annual Grant (GAG) payment. This is reviewed annually by Trustee’s and is increased/decreased depending on need. The UTS has been set at 4.5% and 5% of GAG in previous years. We do not believe in building large central funds but prefer to allocate money to individual academies where it can impact on teachers, pupils and their communities.

Bank Accounts

Each academy has a separate bank account and all their funds are paid into and out of this account. There is no pooling or transfer of funds be between academy accounts and the academy has access to their account at all times.

Revenue Reserves        

Each academy carries forward any surplus/deficit into the next year. LGBs under the scheme of delegation review and approve budgets/expenditure.

Funded via the UTS the Trust will provide:

  • Managed payroll provision
  • Pension fund administration (teachers pensions and LGPS)
  • Online budgeting and finance systems that provide real time data
  • Banking and credit card provision
  • Day-to-day financial support from the CAT Finance Manager
  • Annual internal compliance audit (DfE requirement)
  • Annual external audit and production of annual accounts (DfE requirement)
  • Oversee capital bids (over £2m in additional funding (CIF) secured for CAT academies since 2014)

Other ‘non financial’ elements

  • HR management and administration support (contracts and contract changes)
  • support with organisational change management,
  • provision of clerking services/governance professional
  • Data Protection Officer
  • In-house catering support


Come and chat to see what we do...

If you would like to arrange a conversation with a member of our senior team to learn more about Cheshire Academies Trust, please contact the CEO Steve Ellis at