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Thank you! And updates around the Trust's Services & Support

16th November 2020

We would like to issue a huge thank you to all those leading our schools at this difficult time. There is lots going on, and lots to be proud of:

  • We continue to educate over 2200 children each week, even in the midst of a global pandemic – mostly in person, but some via remote learning
  • COVID cases continue to crop up and grow in frequency as the infection rate in the community increases… but are all effectively tracked and isolated within our schools
  • Our 19/20 external audit has finished and the report is excellent, with no issues identified or recommendations to make – thank you to our Finance Manager and SBMs for their hard work in keeping our finance processes so robust.
  • All our key functions (school improvement, school support, training etc) continue to operate, in most cases remotely – this is harder than usual, so thank you to everyone for engaging despite the technical challenges

We don’t underestimate the challenge and hard work involved in ‘keeping the show on the road’ and supporting our school communities while there is so much change and disruption in the world around us.

We thought that it might be helpful to offer some updates on the main activities that we are undertaking at AST at the moment:

  • Supporting our schools with COVID – in these uncertain times, questions arise every day on COVID related matters (contact tracing, shielding, self-isolation rules etc) – we are always ready to support you with any queries or help that you need.
  • Merger consultation – thank you to everyone who has participated (or is participating) in our merger consultation – we are starting to draw together the feedback from this to present to Trustees in December
  • Merger Due-Diligence – we are working through a detail analysis of GEP’s financial / HR / estates / compliance data to identify anything that could be an issue if we choose to merger, and are providing similar information about AST to them for the same purpose
  • School Improvement work continues in full flow. CPD opportunities, networks and SiP visits are all planned for this halt term … even if often conducted via zoom
  • Internal Audit – we are required (by the ESFA) to operate an Internal Audit function and are preparing for this term’s ‘visit’ by Chetan Modi (our Finance Committee Chair) – SBMs will be sent a short questionnaire regarding budgeting and financial monitoring, and Chetan will then contact them to discuss various items in order to inform his report
  • Pay Ratification – the Trustee’s Pay Ratification Committee meets this week to discuss and confirm the teacher pay recommendations made by our schools
  • Health and Safety Reporting – we do not currently have a standardised reporting system for H&S matters; Dee Stevens is working with schools to understand the local processes currently in place and to identify a way to use these existing systems to create coherent reporting across AST
  • CIF Bids – starting work on our 2021 CIF bids – we aim to be in touch with schools in the coming week to make a final decision on which projects we will prioritise for bids this year.

AST exists to support our schools and we are constantly looking for ways that we can improve the services and support that we offer. If there is anything that you would like to see us supporting your school with then please don’t hesitate to ask.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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