Leadership in the University of Chichester Academy Trust

The University of Chichester Academy Trust continues to go from strength to strength following its successful Ofsted Review and ongoing improvements being made in its schools.  Ofsted inspectors have noted the strength of leadership at all levels throughout the Trust, from Trustees through to middle leaders in the academies who all play their part in driving improvements and innovative practice.

The CEO is passionate about valuing and using the high quality leadership in its schools alongside the expertise in the University to drive the Trust-wide development.  All Chairs of Governors and head teachers are engaged in the co-design of Trust programmes.  The Trust is a truly collaborative venture and is proud to engage school leaders in driving their collective future.

The strategic direction for the Trust is set by the Trust’s Board. This is chaired by the University’s Vice-Chancellor and is driven by a passion for the role the University can play in improving life chances for children and young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Board operates through its two committees – Finance and Resources and Curriculum and Standards, setting a high bar of accountability for officers which ensures there are strong and effective relationships throughout the Trust at leadership level – trustees, academy governors, Trust officers and academy leaders.

The Trust values the uniqueness of each of its academies, and uses its innovative leadership structures to bind them together through a strong set of core values and sense of mission through a number of key elements:

·       A strong shared ethos and culture of collaboration

·       An Advisory Group engaging all heads and Chairs of Governors in co- leadership

·       A commitment to strong support and challenge by peers within and outside the Trust

·       A commitment to identify, nurture and support talent and prepare future leaders

·       Celebration of success and support for each other when needs arise.

Advisory Group

This is the forum within which leaders develop policy and procedure which embeds our strong values in the life of every academy. Meeting each term, the Advisory Group consists of Chairs of Governors, Headteachers and Trust Senior Leaders. Through this forum the Trust has developed its curriculum statement, agreed its approaches to assessment and target setting, guided financial decision making and set the priorities for its strategic planning.

Leadership Conference

Over two days, leaders in the Trust come together to work alongside each other in drafting their Journey to Excellence Plan – the Trust’s school improvement plan. Essentially an extended period of planning, it enables academies to publicly celebrate their successes and flag up their development priorities. By doing this collaboratively, leaders are able to identify where there are synergies, so academies can support each other through school-to-school support and for Trust senior leaders to identify strands of improvement which can be taken forward at Trust level. Each academy ends the conference with a drafted plan and support needs identified for the coming academic year.

Developing talent at leadership level

Each school identifies and nurtures talent and develops leadership skills through a number of routes both formal and informal. Future leaders will be developing their skills within their own school and at an appropriate time for them they may also be provided with other opportunities to work beyond the school through secondments, transfers, school to school support and formal leadership training.


Where leadership capacity is needed within the Trust, or where development needs are identified, leaders may work for extended periods of time in other Trust schools. For example a deputy headteacher from one primary school worked for three days a week over two terms to support the development of assessment and tracking in another school. This experience directly led to their rapid promotion to headship.


When vacancies arise, high quality Trust staff are welcome to request a transfer to another academy. This has enabled talented staff to experience different kinds of schools on their leadership journey and enables the Trust to retain talent and ensure leadership vacancies are filled with high quality staff. One transfer involved a Headteacher of a Trust junior school moving into primary leadership when a vacancy arose at a Trust primary school.

School-to-school support projects

Leaders in Trust academies are encouraged to lead school improvement projects in other Trust schools as part of our Directory of Excellence. Staff are nominated by their Headteachers to lead in an area of excellence. Headteachers wishing to commission support approach the ‘host’ Headteacher directly and arrangements are made with a minimal amount of bureaucracy.

National Professional Qualifications

Trust leaders provide the facilitation for the University’s National Professional Qualifications which are subsidised by the Trust for staff within its academies. The suite of NPQs (Headship, Senior and Middle) are available to any school and schools in Category 5-6 Priority Areas receive a 100% bursary towards the courses. New courses are due to start in the Autumn term. These courses are available to any school and are not limited to Trust schools. You can book your place by emailing npq@chi.ac.uk