Become a Big Life School

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Big Life Schools is keen to work with schools who want to help shape the direction, and support the development, of outstanding, community-based schools. We value the expertise of head teachers and schools that might join us and become part of our journey.

Big Life Schools would welcome active local governing bodies. We have a clear system of delegation, making sure that local governing bodies can help shape their school within the parameters set by the MAT.

What are the benefits of being a Big Life school?

A sense of autonomy: We believe our head teachers and senior leaders know their schools best. We recognise the value of Head Teacher leadershhip and the value of preserving appropriate levels of autonomy at a school level.

A chance to shape the future: Being part of Big Life Schools enables you to develop and shape the direction and growth of both the trust and your school. You will have access to the expertise of staff leading services delivered across The Big Life group, as well as benefiting from the innovation, collaboration and constant learning culture that underpins the group.

Leadership and teaching support: Joining Big Life Schools will provide you with access to a network of passionate and experienced head teachers, senior leaders and teaching and support staff that share resources, and discuss and plan for challenges as a team, supporting schools to develop and improve in all areas of school life. Senior Leaders share moderation across the Trust, building on effective practice, sharing insights and resources to help reduce the workload across all aspects of teaching and learning.

Career development: Each Big Life school is supported to develop workforce and succession planning across their school, promoting early identification of development opportunities. This helps to retain staff, while supporting succession plans in the event of staff turnover across the trust. We support cross-school working and currently share roles such as SENDCO, developing shared systems and processes to maximize funding available to our SEND children.

Curriculum development: We have developed a Big Life curriculum, creating bespoke units, resources and materials that enable our schools to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum. This job is never done and we are continually developing the curriculum with our staff and schools to support staff with a range of resources and plans to minimise workload and focus on quality-first teaching.

Policies for consistency: We have several Trust-wide policies and procedures, which enables schools to be confident that they meet the requirements of ACAS and the Burgundy and Green book at a minimum. These Trust-wide policies ensure alignment with our values and ethos, while reducing the burden placed on schools. Schools can still have their own local policies and procedures, reflecting their local context and ensuring that all needs are catered for.

Wellbeing support: All staff in our schools have access to an employer assistance scheme and wellbeing support tools and training on Learn Well. School staff also participate in Big Life’s annual staff awards programme, giving them a chance to celebrate their achievements and the group’s impact. Every employee is provided with an annual leave day for their birthday, agreed locally with your school leadership team.

Community engagement: Our schools are rooted in their local communities. We support schools to develop links with all parents, families, carers and the wider community. For example, we may aim to provide access to the use of buildings for local community groups to provide services that benefit all, such as sports.

Data management: Our schools use a range of systems and databases. Each school is supported to identify and use systems that work best for them, and enable partnership working with local cluster schools. Schools are supported to access data and reports, presented in formats that make it easy to identify and mitigate risks and make planning easier.

Back-office support: We have strong back-office services (including finance, communications, HT, training, estate management, IT, quality, and governance), with the ability to expand to meet the needs of a growing MAT.

  • HR: The HR team and employment law partners provide excellent HR advice, support workforce development, and work with you to deal with any staffing challenges. All schools are supported with recruitment, with access to an online recruitment portal helping to speed up the process while ensuring compliance with all safer recruitment requirements, including oversight of a single central register.
  • Payroll: The payroll team ensures that all changes required to staff salaries or job roles are processed effectively and professionally without needing to outsource.
  • Finance: The finance team provides access to our electronic purchasing system, making purchase orders and payments a centralised process. Management accounts are produced monthly and reviewed with budget holders, and all required financial information is sent to the funding authorities, including an independent external audit.
  • Communications and Marketing: The communications and marketing team can support your school in the creation and development of your website, social media activity and support to develop bespoke marketing plans for a range of school-led initiatives.
  • Health and Safety: A central Health and Safety lead will support school-based reps to ensure compliance with statutory requirements and participation in health and safety audits.
  • Estates Management: All sites are managed according to their life cycle plans, including management and oversight of the school sinking fund to ensure that repairs and maintenance are not dependent on grant subsidies.
  • Safeguarding: Schools have access to safeguarding leads, who provide support for local designated safeguarding leads, identify training required and ensure that section 11/175 audits are completed annually, reviewing safeguarding practice and developing action plans.
  • Training: The training team provide schools with access to a range of training courses, such as: safeguarding (at a level dependent on role), domestic violence and abuse awareness, manual handling, and adverse childhood experiences, as well as a wide range of optional courses to support all staff to develop wider skills.

Frequently asked questions

How much will the Trust top slice from our funding? Toggle

Big Life Schools top slice 6% of the GAG funding, excluding targeted funding such as pupil premium or SEND funding, which remains identified and prioritised on pupils. Each school currently pays a development fee, which supports Trust-wide development on areas such as curriculum, engagement, capital development. The focus of this changes depending on the priorities and needs of the schools.

Will I still be able to make key decisions on staff structures? Toggle

Yes, as long as we remain within budget. We expect head teachers to understand and know their needs and requirements better than we do. Staff structures are identified by the school, reviewed by the LGC and submitted to the MAT Trust board for sign off prior to the start of a new academic year.