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The Stour Federation

Multi Academy Trust

Learn, grow, succeed together

School Improvement Model

The Trust plays a key role in wider system leadership through the CEO’s unpaid directorship of Gateway Alliance, supporting other schools through Warwickshire LA, leading and participating in local partnerships and sharing expertise widely.


Our organisation has capacity and strength to support new schools joining the MAT or schools outside the Trust. We have SLE, LLE and ELE expertise, along with LA moderators and Curriculum Leads who support across and beyond the Trust, who can articulate their school improvement repertoire. It means the best teachers can have the biggest impact on more children than they could ever teach in one school and unleash potential across many schools.


The Stour Federation learns from and contributes to the practice of other Academy Trusts in the region and further afield. A mindset for creativity and innovation, including disruptive thinking, is an essential ingredient in helping our School Trust generate increased value and improved levels of performance. We accept the opportunity to act as a leader in our sphere of influence, behaving as an inspiration to others and demonstrating what can be achieved for the benefit of other schools as well as our own.




    Our school improvement steps for high performance are built on the climate and culture of the school, underpinned by our 6Cs:

    • Character.
    • Citizenship.
    • Collaboration.
    • Communication.
    • Creativity.
    • Critical Thinking.



    We use the RADAR acronym (based on the EFQM Excellence Model) to help diagnose the Trust’s current strengths and opportunities for improvement.  The same model is used for individual school improvement plans.



    • Determine the Results we are aiming to achieve as part of our school improvement strategy.
    • Have in place a number of Approaches that will deliver the required results, both now and in the future.
    • Deploy these approaches appropriately.
    • Assess and Refine the deployed approaches to learn and improve.

    Our culture of continuous improvement drives the bespoke packages of support for each school at the stage of improvement they have reached so far.




    Our goal is to learn, grow, and succeed together to produce a continual flow of value to children, families, staff and our communities through continuous improvement and respect for people.  Only when everyone flourishes, will we all truly flourish together.  We are called to flourish, we are connected to flourish and we must be committed to flourishing in schools.


    The Flourishing Schools research points to the importance of developing a learning culture that is future focused and marked by continual improvement.


    Kaizen is a well known Japanese term meaning gentle pressure, change for the better or continuous improvement, which serves as the basis for a Japanese business philosophy.


    More important than the actual improvements that individuals contribute, the true value of continuous improvement is in creating an ethic of excellence, an atmosphere of continuous learning and an environment that not only accepts, but embraces change. Such an environment can only be created where there is respect for people.  Leaders at all levels must take the responsibility for developing and nurturing mutual trust and understanding among all team members.  We need a stable core to safeguard what we stand for and stay on track,  but a disruptive edge to stay fresh and get better.  Leadership is about engaging and motivating people.  Management is about designing and running the systems that organise the work.  Both are important, and certainly we can be both a leader and manager.


    Leadership and management has no more critical role than to motivate and engage large numbers of people to work together toward a common goal. Defining and explaining the goal, sharing a path to achieving it, motivating people to take the journey with us, and providing assistance by removing obstacles - these are leadership’s reasons for being. 


    We must engage the minds of people to support and contribute their ideas to the organisation through valuing insights on execution, the importance of people, and the behaviours and feelings of each and every employee that eventually shape our organisation’s deliberate culture. 


    Storytelling fuels the super strength of our ability to form tightly bound groups. Stories of Us explain our shared identity based on the past, the present and the future, and describe the type of person we need to be to be part of our tribe.  It becomes a standard we aspire to.  Every day.


    One of the iconic publications on corporate teams, Senior Leadership Teams: What it Takes to Make Them Great, by Harvard professors (Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman), shared: 


    Of all the factors that we assessed in our research, the one that makes the biggest difference in how well a senior leadership team performs is the clarity of the behavioural norms that guide members’ interaction. 


    Continuous improvement and respect for people are an eternal quest, because the journey to excellence never ends.


    Part I Philosophy - Long-Term Systems Thinking


    Principle 1. Base our leadership and management decisions on long-term strategic thinking.

    Part II: Processes—Strive to Flow Value to Stakeholders 

    Principle 2. Connect people and processes through continuous flow to bring problems to the surface.   


    Principle 3. Level out the workload, like the tortoise, not the hare.

    Principle 4. Work to establish standardised processes as the foundation for continuous improvement.   

    Principle 5. Build a culture of stopping to identify out-of-standard conditions and build in quality.   

    Principle 6. Adopt and adapt technology that supports our people and processes.   

    Part III: People—Respect, Challenge, and Grow Your People and Partners Toward a Vision of Excellence 

    Principle 7. Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others to become exceptional people and build organisationally healthy teams.

    Principle 8. Respect our value chain partners by challenging them and helping them improve.   

    Part IV: Problem Solving—Think and Act Scientifically to Improve Toward a Desired Future 

    Principle 9. Observe deeply and learn iteratively (Plan-Do-Check-Act) to meet each challenge.   

    Principle 10. Focus the improvement energy, creativity, authenticity and hope of our people through aligned goals at all levels.   

    Contact Details and Useful Links