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Great Missenden

Church Of England Combined School

An Academy of the Great Learners Trust

Great Learners Trust Strategic Plan

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Vision Statement:

The vision of the Great Learners Trust is that all the children in the MAT community of schools are provided with outstanding educational opportunities:

  • Challenge for All – Growth Mindset in action
  • Exceptional Progress
  • Unforgettable Learning Experiences


  • To maximise children’s attainment and progress in all our schools.
  • To keep the best educational professionals within our community.
  • To collaborate for the benefit of all our schools, sharing outstanding practice.
  • To join forces to improve resources and funding.

Track Record:

The Great Learners Trust was formed in April 2014. Our aim is to promote outstanding practice in partnership with other schools, to develop strong and sustainable school leadership and accelerated school improvement.


We know we can do this because:

  • We have been doing it with consistent success at Great Missenden for the last 10 years. We have maintained and improved on our OFSTED Outstanding status.
  • We have a strong track record of supporting other schools, both informally and through NCTL and other funding. We have always been an outward-facing school and we are now an outward-facing MAT.
  • In 2016 we were designated a National Support School in recognition of this work. We have built a team who are committed to proactive and rapid school improvement.
  • We have provided support for many other schools, including SEND and DSL leadership for our linked infant schools, INSET for schools in our Liaison Group, coaching, mentoring and secondment.
  • Within 6 months last academic year we moved Iver Village Junior School (Inadequate then RI for 5 years) to “Good” in June 2016.
  • We have successfully supported Princes Risborough Primary School to convert as a sponsored academy in January 2017.


We have outstanding teachers and leaders capable of driving change


We know what works and we want to “scale it up”



To form strong, mutually beneficial partnerships, with local schools who share an enthusiasm for making the MAT a successful learning community.

We have ensured the continued success of the first academy in the MAT, Great Missenden School, and celebrated our new partnership with Princes Risborough Primary School in 2017. Our third school, Great Kimble, is due to join us next year.

We have successfully applied to the EFA for Sponsor Capacity and Growth Funding. We were allocated £135,000 in 2016 to carry out school improvement and build MAT infrastructure, and £95,000 Regional Academies Growth Funding in 2017.

Our plan is to grow the MAT to 5 schools in the next 2 years. Our priority is to ensure that the partnership continues to be local, beneficial and sustainable.

The Great Learners Trust area of expertise is primary education.


To form local partnerships within a close radius of Missenden (proposed maximum distance: 10 miles). Staff and governors should be able to travel between home and school, and between schools easily.


The Great Learners Trust provides:

  • expertise and support in the academy conversion process
  • a project manager to undertake the work
  • ongoing school-to-school support at whatever level is required by the joining converter or sponsored academy.


Each school within the MAT has its own distinct character and identity. The MAT does not impose a set identity but celebrates the diversity of its member schools. Church schools and non-church schools can join the MAT. There is no imposition of values or structures, other than an agreement to work together to promote outstanding education for our children.


Together we are stronger.

Every school plays a vital role in its community but we need to streamline costs and procedures for greater efficiency in the face of severe budgetary pressure. The MAT establishes collaboration between schools who are actively seeking ways to address budget restrictions while remaining true to their ethos and values.

Benefits for the children:

Increased collaboration between schools for better educational outcomes – for example, shared assessment systems, shared training (teachers and LSAs) benefit all. Outstanding staff within the MAT will be deployed for school-to-school support.

Retention of outstanding leaders, teachers and support staff. Our valuable staff will stay within the Trust because it provides headroom / possibilities for career development / the opportunity to experience working in different schools. There are golden opportunities for coaching, mentoring and sharing outstanding practice.

Motivated teachers = happy children

Financial and other resources are more effectively deployed – this directly benefits our children.

We have a MAT Development Officer, whose role is to apply for grants and co-ordinate fundraising etc to benefit all schools in the Trust – leading to a better environment and better equipment for the children.

Why should schools consider becoming part of the Trust?

  • Because it will benefit the children in our care, and improve learning and teaching.
  • Because it will send out a powerful message about joined-up thinking and great team work in this local area.
  • Because it will show that we are forward-thinking and “ahead of the game”.
  • Because in a time of reduced funding and eroded LA support, we need to join forces to maximise our income and deploy our expenditure strategically.
  • Because the Great Learners Trust is:


  • Bespoke - different schools need different levels of support at different times – the MAT can provide this.
  • Diverse - we celebrate the fact that our schools have different strengths.
  • Local – we do not wish to be accountable to distant bureaucrats!
  • Responsive – with the ability to step in and help when needed.
  • Personalised – proud of our distinctly different schools’ characters.
  • Collaborative – not in competition, but actively working to ensure the success of all our schools.
  • Supportive – sharing problems and finding solutions together.
  • Outstanding – we will promote outstanding teaching and learning across the MAT. Not just “OFSTED” outstanding, but what we know to be outstanding – a rich, varied, unforgettable, lively and rewarding educational experience for every child in all our schools.


Governance structure:


The Members meet at least once a year, or more frequently if needed. They monitor the performance of the MAT as a whole and hold the Trustees to account for the performance of all the partner schools.

There are 4 Members. The existing Memorandum and Articles of Association set out the roles/responsibilities of the Members which are:

  1. Chair of Trustees
  2. Chair of Finance (or another appointment made by the Diocese)
  3. Great Missenden incumbent (Vicar of St Peter and Paul Church)
  4. Representative of the Oxford Diocese



The Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the success of the MAT. They must share a determination to improve education in all the schools in the MAT. They are chosen for their skills and experience, to ensure the MAT is well run. They are not affiliated to any single school in the MAT, but have equal concern for them all.

There should be at least 3 non-school Trustees, recruited to represent the local communities, ideally with business or other experience to bring to this role.

The Board of Trustees meets at least once a term. Meetings are held in each of the partner schools in rotation.

There is a Finance Trustee, an HR Trustee and a Health and Safety Trustee – there may also be other designated responsibilities. These Trustees meet with their counterparts on each Local Governing Body twice a year (suggested- budget time and one other).


Each school has its own Local Governing Board as now, focused on supporting the individual school. The Local Governing Board decides the number and remit of any committees to support its work.


The head teachers of the Great Learners Trust schools, and the Executive Director, meet together termly (or more frequently if needed) to plan collaboratively and identify priorities. They support each other, share concerns, celebrate success and discuss strategic management, such as funding needs and the effective deployment of staff across the Trust.

Scheme of Delegation:

A detailed scheme of delegation, outlining the respective responsibilities of the Trustees and the Local Governing Boards, will be negotiated with each school as they join the MAT. This scheme of delegation will vary depending on the individual circumstances of the joining school, ie: sponsored or converter academy.


All staff are employed by the Trust.

The Trustees are responsible for the appointment of the Executive Director. The Trustees oversee the appointment to other leadership roles, but this may be delegated to the Local Governing Boards. All other staff are recruited / line managed by the individual schools themselves.

Recruitment is easier for a MAT because candidates see the potential for career advancement and a broader range of opportunities.


Each academy within the MAT receives funding direct from the DFE, and any top-up or SEN funding from the Local Authority.

The MAT Business Manager works with the finance staff / bursar of each academy on the day-to-day management of the budget. The MAT Business Manager oversees the academy and Trust accounts and ensures that these are submitted by the August deadline and all other returns are in order. (DFE / VAT / Auditors etc)

The MAT charges a management fee – a percentage of each school’s budget - to pay for centralised administration. This is currently set at 6% of GAG (the school’s General Annual Grant). The level of the management fee, and which centralised functions it includes, are agreed annually by the Board of Trustees. (See Appendix 1 and 2)


The Trust provides policies for Finance / Personnel / Confidentiality / Health and Safety and other key areas.

Individual schools may choose to manage their own learning and teaching / curriculum policies – but there are great advantages to streamlining policies across the MAT.

In conclusion:

The MAT’s success will be judged on the day-to-day educational experience of each child in a Great Learners Trust school. All our meetings, policies, structures, plans and innovations must focus on the MAT’s sole purpose: to improve teaching and learning.

To ensure that children are inspired to become life-long learners…


“The job of a teacher is to weave magic”










Appendix 1: The MAT Central Fund

The grants outlined above (Sponsor Capacity Funding, School Improvement Funding, Regional Academies Growth Funding) and the annual management fee from each school in the Trust, combine to form the MAT Central Fund.

The MAT Central Fund consists of restricted and unrestricted elements:

Restricted: funds received specifically in relation to school improvement related to an individual school. These funds need to be targeted at this individual school, and accounted for.

Unrestricted: other funds, such as grants brought in by the MAT Development Officer and the annual management fee paid by all schools in the MAT. The deployment of these funds is decided by the Trustees, taking account of the priorities of the schools within the MAT and recommendations / requests from the Local Governing Boards.


Appendix 2: What the MAT provides

The MAT charges an annual management fee to pay for centralised services. This is set at 6% of each school’s GAG funding (reviewed by Trustees annually).

The following will be provided for all MAT academies through this fee:



  • Strictly Education Finance Support
  • MAT Business Manager Finance Support, including attendance at governor finance meetings
  • Reporting to EFA
  • Audit fees
  • Salary sacrifice scheme - administration


Legal and HR

  • Legal advice from Michelmores
  • MAT Executive Director advice and support – capability, conduct, staff absence
  • Strictly Education HR Advice
  • Staff contracts
  • HT Performance Management – if requested by either Governors or Trustees



  • Practical assistance with all aspects of recruitment – advertising, person specs, interviews, job descriptions – attracting candidates to the Trust



  • Executive Director / Trustee attendance at Governors meetings and follow-up work
  • Centralised policies
  • Website updates
  • MAT co-ordinated training for governors – eg team building events



  • MAT Premises Manager advice and support
  • Bids to EFA for capital funding
  • Project management of premises improvements (either MAT Premises Manager or AHR)


Each individual academy will pay for the following through their GAG funding:

  • Payroll
  • Insurance (RPA)


Appendix 3: Role of Executive Director

Great Learners Trust

Executive Director

Job Description


To promote outstanding teaching and learning across the Great Learners Trust.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

  • To provide overall strategic leadership and, with others, lead, develop and support the direction, vision, values and priorities of the Trust and the academies within the Trust.
  • With governors and trustees, to establish and maintain the best possible leadership and management in every academy.
  • To enable the Trust to deliver outstanding educational opportunities and to promote the highest possible standards of achievement and wellbeing in its academies.
  • To secure the long-term success of the academies within the Trust by maximising potential through people, skills and resources.
  • To build system-wide leadership capacity at all levels through actively developing strategic governance, staffing structures and roles and responsibilities

Key Accountabilities:

Qualities and knowledge:

1. To hold and articulate clear values and moral purpose, focused on providing a world class education for the pupils in the Trust

2. To demonstrate optimistic personal behaviour, positive relationships and attitudes towards pupils and staff, and towards parents, governors, trustees and members of the Trust’s local communities.

3. To lead by example - with integrity, creativity, resilience, and clarity.

4. To sustain wide, current knowledge and understanding of education and school systems locally, nationally and globally, and pursue continuous professional development.

5. To work with political and financial astuteness, within a clear set of principles centred on the Trust’s vision, translating local and national policy into the Trust’s context.

6. To communicate compellingly the Trust’s vision and drive the strategic leadership, empowering all pupils and staff to excel.

Pupils and staff:

1. To ensure that the Trust’s head teachers demand ambitious standards for all pupils, overcoming disadvantage and advancing equality, instilling a strong sense of accountability in staff for the impact of their work on pupils’ outcomes.

2. To support the Trust’s head teachers in securing excellent teaching through an analytical understanding of how pupils learn and of the core features of successful classroom practice and curriculum design, leading to rich curriculum opportunities and pupils’ well-being.

3. To establish across the Trust an educational culture of ‘open classrooms’ as a basis for sharing best practice within and between schools, drawing on and conducting relevant research and robust data analysis.

4. With head teachers, to create a Trust ethos within which all staff are motivated and supported to develop their own skills and subject knowledge, and to support each other.

5. To identify emerging talents, coaching current and aspiring leaders in a climate where excellence is the standard, leading to clear succession planning across the Trust.

6. To ensure that the Trust’s head teachers hold all staff to account for their professional conduct and practice.

Systems, process and performance:

1. To ensure that the Trust’s systems, organisation and processes are well considered, efficient and fit for purpose, upholding the principles of transparency, integrity and probity.

2. To ensure each local governing board effectively manages the performance of the academy’s head teacher. To be a member of the performance review panel if this is requested by either the trustees or the local governing board.

3. To welcome strong governance and actively support the trustees and local governing boards to understand their role and deliver their functions effectively – in particular in setting school strategy and holding the head teachers to account for pupil, staff and financial performance.

4. To ensure that the Trust’s head teachers provide a safe, calm and well-ordered environment for all pupils and staff, focused on safeguarding pupils and developing their exemplary behaviour in school and in the wider society.

5. With the Trust’s head teachers, to establish rigorous, fair and transparent systems and measures for managing the performance of all staff, addressing any under-performance, supporting staff to improve and valuing excellent practice.

6. With the Trust’s head teachers, to exercise strategic, curriculum-led financial planning to ensure the equitable deployment of budgets and resources, in the best interests of pupils’ achievements and the school’s sustainability.

7. To oversee the financial performance of the Trust, to ensure budgets are balanced and that there are robust and consistent financial systems in place.

8. To distribute leadership across the Trust and within academies, forging teams of colleagues who have distinct roles and responsibilities and hold each other to account for their decision making.

The self-improving school system

1. To create outward-facing schools which work with other schools and organisations - in a climate of mutual challenge - to champion best practice and secure excellent achievements for all pupils.

2. To challenge educational orthodoxies in the best interests of achieving excellence, harnessing the findings of well evidenced research to frame self-regulating and self-improving schools.

3. With the Trust’s head teachers, to shape the current and future quality of the teaching profession through high quality training and sustained professional development for all staff.

4. To model entrepreneurial and innovative approaches to school improvement, leadership and governance, confident of the vital contribution of internal and external accountability.

5. To inspire and influence others - within and beyond schools - to believe in the fundamental importance of education in young people’s lives and to promote the value of education.


Growth Mindset - Challenge for All - OFSTED Outstanding since 2006


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