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The Stour Federation

Multi Academy Trust

Learn, grow, succeed together


Why do we exist?

The Stour Federation exists to develop and grow our group of inspirational schools which instil ambition and desire in learners, open their minds, widen their horizons and equip them to succeed in a diverse and challenging world. 


How do we behave?

In The Stour Federation we learn, grow, succeed together with our Trust RESPECT values as the minimum behavioural standard.  Values inform expectations.  Expectations influence behaviour.  Behaviour creates culture.



What do we do?

In The Stour Federation, we establish high-performing and flourishing church and community schools which build academic and personal/interpersonal qualities and capabilities: character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking, for learning and being.


How will we succeed?

  • Organisational health.
  • An ethic of excellence.
  • Aligned autonomy.
  • Growing and retaining talent.
  • Self-determination.



Why Aligned Autonomy?

The optimal balance between consistency and self-determination; freedom and responsibility.  Aligned Autonomy will deliver a more agile and less hierarchical organisation:

  • Respect at every level.
  • Rules focused on clarity rather than control.
  • Roles that are needed and make sense.
  • Collaborative leadership.
  • Principles and purpose rather than practice.
  • Creates value quickly, collaboratively and effectively.



Why Aligned?

  • We share the same Trust mission and values.
  • All children and staff should benefit from our best collective practice.
  • We all benefit from collective resources, identity and reputation.
  • Staff can be more easily deployed to other schools in the academy if they wish.
  • Central services become simpler to deliver and more efficient.
  • Growth can be better controlled, supported and managed.


Why Autonomy?

  • Leadership and personal accountability are founded on ownership and self-direction.
  • If there is no variation in how we work, there will be no opportunity for us to innovate, act as pathfinders or learn from different practices.
  • Schools need to respond to changing needs and adapt to changing environments.



According to the self-determination theory, people are intrinsically motivated to grow, develop, improve and obtain satisfaction driven by three main innate psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relationship.  Self-determination is therefore central to job satisfaction and happiness.


What's the most important now?

Trust Strategic Development Plan -  this sets out the Trust’s priorities and goals for the next 3 years.



  • Excellence for our children.
  • Organisational health.
  • Growth and sustainability.


Individual School Improvement Plan - each school in The Stour Federation has its own annual Improvement Plan specific to their individual circumstances, using the tiered model anchors from the EEF’s planning guide for schools.

  • High quality teaching.
  • Targeted academic support.
  • Wider strategies.


Who must do what?

This must be answered by each individual school, to reflect staffing structures and talent, relying on expertise rather than rank

The Process

Aligning Autonomy is a process which evolves. A component of the spine one year may be dropped in another because it outlives its usefulness, or because it is a time for further innovation and rethinking.  As a Trust, we need to be agile and work at pace to be responsive to need.



Mission and values

  • 6 Critical questions and answers (1-4).
  • Mission aligned to the Trust, succinct and measurable.
  • Organisational health - focus on being healthy more than being smart: build cohesive leadership teams, create clarity, overcommunicate clarity and reinforce clarity.
  • Buy-in to the Confederation of Schools Trust 4 propositions.


  • Workload charter.
  • ‘Keep it simple’ to free staff from bureaucracy.
  • Focus on feedback rather than marking.
  • Directed time in staff meetings for collaborative planning and subject leadership. 
  • Eliminate unnecessary data burdens.
  • Ensure clarity of who must do what.
  • Kotter’s model to manage change.
  • Annual staff wellbeing survey.
  • Annual HSE stress survey


  • Curriculum principles.
  • PSHE Protective Behaviours.
  • Maths Process.
  • Writing Process.
  • Book Talk Process.


  • Research informed pedagogy.
  • Retrieval practice / low stakes testing.
  • Pupil Book Studies.
  • Teacher WalkThrus techniques.

Assessment and feedback

  • Assessment principles.
  • Pupil Progress proformas for teachers to own data.
  • 3 data drops per year.
  • Whole class feedback.
  • Annual pupil experience survey.
  • Annual parent experience survey.

Behaviour and routines

  • Trust behaviour principles that promote our vision and values.
  • Restorative and relational practice.
  • 6Cc global competencies - character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking.
  • Exclusions policy.

Safeguarding and attendance

  • Trust Child Protection and Safeguarding policy.
  • Staff Behaviour Policy (Code of Conduct).
  • SCR checks.
  • Annual KCSiE quiz to inform annual statutory training for staff and governors. 
  • Safeguarding governor job description.
  • Trust Whistleblowing policy.
  • Trust Attendance policy.


  • Qualified SENDCO.
  • Standard SEND annual report to governors structure.
  • Mainstream teaching for all SEND.
  • SEND teaching assistants rather than 1:1 teaching assistants.

QA and appraisal

  • Termly Pupil Book Studies for core/foundation subjects.
  • Half termly WWW/EBI  learning walks.
  • SEF mid-year and end of year peer review.
  • Peer quality assurance review cycle.
  • Teachers annual appraisal - improve not prove.
  • Teaching assistants annual appraisal.
  • Office staff appraisal.

Talent management and human resources

  • Commitment to Trust-wide capacity building and talent architecture.
  • Self-determination theory.
  • Trust HR policies and procedures.
  • EPM HR and Payroll.
  • WES Legal Services.


  • Healthy and efficient meetings as per Workload Charter (e.g. no more than one regular after-school meeting each week for staff; no more than 2 for SLT)
  • Leadership Team weekly catch up - 1 morning per week.
  • Core Leaders Strategic – 1 meeting per half term.
  • Trust Planning Day - 1 full day.


  • Scheme of delegation.
  • Articles of association.
  • Annual cycle; agenda and briefing matrix.
  • 4 Local Academy Council meetings minimum;
  • Structure of Local Academy Councils.
  • Trust-wide governor training.


  • Trust policies and procedures for financial management.
  • Access for Education budgeting and forecasting.
  • Ellacotts accountancy.


  • Cyber response plan. 
  • Trust Online Safety policy.
  • ICTDS managed server, WIFI and backups.
  • SIMS.
  • ParentPay.
  • SchoolPing.
  • Google Workspace.
  • PrimarySite school website.

Estates/health and safety

  • WES Safety and Premises.
  • Statutory practice and Trust policies.
  • Evolve EVC risk assessments.
  • Grounds maintenance.
  • CIF bids.

Marketing and identity

  • Website compliance, including a Trust page. 
  • Trust logo as part of school letterheads, email footer
  • Recruitment documentation.
  • Trust-wide bulletin and key internal comms.
  • Standard document template for external documents.
  • Slides template for external audiences, display screens and important events.

Contact Details and Useful Links