Project Description

About the Client

The Northern Education Trust (NET) is a multi-academy trust (MAT) which oversees the provision of education services to pupils in primary and secondary education in the North of England. The Trust operates 21 academies (10 primary & 11 secondary) which are all rated at either Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. In all aspects, the Trust aims to be Outcomes Focused and Child Centred.

The Project

Originally set up as a charity, NET was asked to manage two failing school academies on behalf of the Local Education Authority at the request of the Regional Schools Commissioner. Both schools were bought under the operational control of the Trust in 2012. The Trust has, subsequently, taken on many other academies.

Strategic Discourse were engaged by the Chief Operating Officer to undertake an investigation and analysis piece of work to help the senior management team at NET understand the current weaknesses at the Trust and to assist them in creating new change programmes to develop into a successful MAT.

Strategic Discourse were also expected to liaise with current academies, local authorities, the Schools Commissioner, and other key stakeholders in a very highly charged political environment.

Our Approach

Initially, the team carried out a semi-structured set of interviews with the senior managers at the Trust. This helped to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges faced while understanding the work which had been carried out to provide greater levels of support to each academy. Due to the very sensitive nature of this work, the true nature project was withheld from interview participants – it was explained as a detailed investigation into marketing, branding and communications options. This decision was taken by the senior management team and supported by Strategic Discourse.

Next a number of academy principals, executive principals and governors were interviewed, to understand their perspectives. These interviews provided information on the current levels of support provided by the Trust to its academies.

By carrying out detailed primary and secondary research, the team were able to fully understand the issues which remained at the Trust and use this information to build several recommendations and realign services to ensure increased levels of success.

Strategic Discourse were also asked to analyse the marketing and branding of the Trust and to deliver suggestions as to how this could be improved, or how the overall perception of the Trust could be improved amongst its various academic and commercial partners and the local communities.

The Outcome

Overall, Strategic Discourse were able to provide the Northern Education Trust with a number of high quality outcomes.

A full investigation into the different levels of support offered to all academies within the Trust ensured that the Senior Management Team could quickly and easily identify various areas of concern.

The work on the branding and marketing enabled NET to better manage their brand identity and understand the actions necessary to ensure that the brand was well received locally and regionally.

A Stakeholder Direction Programme was delivered enabling management to ensure all stakeholders needs were well managed and that they received the correct outcomes at all times.

Various other models were built specifically for the Trust, and Trust staff were trained in the best methods to use these to further enhance success without the need for our constant input.

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