The White Paper – part 3 – Trust growth doesn’t start with another school 

So, the White Paper makes Trust growth one of the most important aspects moving forward. Let’s explore what that looks like.

There are certain things I can make a very educated guess at. Man City winning the league – now, now, I’ve been a lifelong Blue and suffered the ups and downs for decades so I have served my time for 5 decades, I’ll have you know! Secondly, I won’t smile when opening a tax bill and think ‘ah, that’s lovely’. Thirdly, if I ask most people what Trust growth looks like, I will usually be told ‘finding another school’.

That’s where I start having a problem. Trust growth doesn’t start with another school. It ends with another school in reality. It’s a process. And then the process starts again.

Trust growth in reality starts with taking a step back and asking yourself a number of questions. Questions like:

What are we trying to achieve where growth is concerned?

Do we have the capacity to grow or do we need additional capacity?

How do we up-skill and upscale our mindset, infrastructure, processes and systems?

Can we create something bigger than the sum of the parts?

What does growth actually look like in the first place?

What due diligence will we undertake and who is responsible for it?

How will we onboard a new school?

How will we protect and enhance that school’s identity?

How do we prove we are right for the school as much as seeing if they are right for us

Will we survive someone else’s due diligence on us?

Is our central team fit for purpose?

What do we need to know that we don’t already?

The list goes on. All of this should be done way before another school joins.

Knowing yourself – and more importantly, truly and honestly accepting who you are – is critical in being able to grow. Answering someone else’s questions before they know they even have them is the underlying mantra to everything I do and recommend others to do, whether it be in due diligence, growth audits, MAT mergers or academy conversions. Whether it comes down to the initial application to convert or the consultation during the process, this is still the thing to do.

There is also a real need to verify and triangulate what you think about yourself. This means using external agencies to review your people, finances, mindset, structures, processes etc, etc. You either receive validation or find out things about your Trust you weren’t aware of and need to put right. If that’s not a Win-Win situation, I don’t know what is.

The White Paper has put Trust growth at the forefront of Trust strategic planning for the immediate future. So, my advice is take a breath, slow down, start – if you don’t already have one – drafting a MAT Growth Plan, seek support and see the benefits appear before your eyes on those pages. As you move forward, this planned approach will serve you – and the schools joining you – well.

Though some Trusts feel this is a sprint, it isn’t. Step change is safer than rapid growth and taking a step back now, means you are proactive rather than reactive, robust rather than fragile. So, step back, consider what you are trying to achieve, self assess, seek support and start mapping out what the growth journey looks like before you even start thinking about the names of schools!

Now, how many games left in the league?