Our Central Services Team

Prosper Learning Trust (PLT) has an Executive Leadership structure and Central Services Team that offers support to all our academies. The Executive Leadership work collaboratively to ensure the key development priorities for the Trust are focussed upon and established. The Central Services Team supports the Executive Leadership and all our academies to deliver on the key priorities and to support academy leadership in delivering an outstanding educational experience for our pupils.

The Executive Leadership and Central Services Team have been developed to deliver the following underlying principles of the Trust:

  • All academies to actively support and challenge each other, to identify and share best practice for the benefit of all our pupils
  • To improving the educational experiences of all our pupils
  • To recognise and celebrate the achievement of both pupils and staff
  • To provide a stimulating learning environment in which a team of highly skilled staff deliver quality, well-resourced teaching and therapeutic support to meet the needs of all pupils
  • To ensure a safe, secure and supportive environment that allows pupils to
    become more independent and resilient, where they can be happy and enjoy learning
  • To encourage each academy to celebrate its distinctive identity
  • To value the entire school community, promoting well-being to all pupils and staff
  • To work in partnership with all stakeholders
  • To provide high quality CPD which promotes high quality and effective teaching and pastoral care for all pupils
  • To promote leadership development and succession planning from within the Trust
  • A commitment to provide quality-assured services to keep our academies legal, financially robust and continually developing

Through strong collaboration and a commitment to uphold the values and ethos of Prosper Learning Trust all member academies are provided with the following:

  • Stability and protection in a fast-changing educational landscape
  • Strong strategic and operational guidance and advice
  • Collaboration and sharing of best practice
  • Clear accountability for school improvement with profession led response to
    areas of development
  • Maintaining the integrity and independence of good and outstanding schools
  • Improved outcomes and progress for pupils including major focus on next steps and transition opportunities
  • Training and development opportunities including greater opportunities for leadership development and succession planning
  • Strong pedagogical models shaping professional practice and improving
    outcomes, supporting the development of excellent teaching
  • Wider range of curriculum opportunities
  • A climate for further innovation
  • Strong and robust governance structures
  • Strong partnership working model including with:
    • Local Authorities
    • Mainstream and Special Schools in multiple local authorities
    • Universities
    • Education Partnership North East
    • Newcastle College
    • ESPA
    • Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    • Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
    • National Association for Hospital Education
    • Newcastle United Foundation
    • Alternative Provision providers
    • Employers
  • Reassurance of compliance with all legal regulations
  • Financial sustainability and efficiency with economies of scale and cost savings for centrally procured services

Executive Leadership

The Executive Leadership Team is comprised of:

  • Mark Jones – Chief Executive Officer
  • Martin Proud – Director of Finance & Operations
  • Chris Richardson – Executive Headteacher: Newcastle Bridges School & Mary Astell Academy
  • Daley Barber-Allen – Headteacher: Thomas Bewick School
  • Derek Cogle – Headteacher: Harry Watts Academy

The Executive Leadership meet fortnightly to discuss and review progress against key priorities and to provide support and challenge to each other. Through this forum school improvement priorities are identified, planned and reviewed.

The Executive Leadership are supported by the Trust Achievement Partner, Phil Keay. Phil Keay is a very experienced former Headteacher who works closely with the CEO and our Headteachers, offering support and challenge.

The Trust Achievement Partner offers the following to all our academies

  • Improvement Partner Role, supporting leadership to
    • Evaluate its performance
    • Identify priorities for improvement
    • Plan effective change
    • Act as critical friend
  • Leadership and Governor Training
    • Bespoke to individual academy needs
    • Offered to all levels of leadership including aspiring leaders
  • Leadership Coaching

Central Services

To deliver the Trust’s vision we have developed a central support team that works across all our academies to:

  • Ensure Trust compliance
  • Provide support and expertise
  • Provide information and guidance
  • Ensure a consistency of approach where appropriate
  • Allow our academies to benefit from economies of scale

The Central Services Team has now developed its capacity to ensure that crucial aspects in running a school are covered including:

  • Financial services
  • Estate and premises management
  • Health and safety support
  • HR management and administration
  • ICT and data
  • Safeguarding
  • Compliance
  • School improvement

It is the aim of the Trust to provide an impactful central team and a coherent system to support educational outcomes. The increased capacity of the Central Service Team allows academy leadership to focus on the single, most important thing that it does – to continually improve the quality of teaching in every classroom, ensuring that the young people in our care get the best possible opportunity in life. 

Finance Team

As well as providing management reports and budgetary support to Headteachers, and meeting financial regulatory requirements as a Trust, the Finance Team is answerable to the Risk and Audit Committee, Executive Leaders and external auditors.

The team process every order and payment made from our academies and the central team, to ensure that our academies are able to deliver excellent services to our pupils whether that be via Capital works, maintenance, education materials, ICT resources, Health and Safety.

The team also processes all income into the Trust from national sources, grants, fundraising, parental income. In addition, the team also provides support to academies by liaising with suppliers of goods and services.

The Finance Team ensure:

  • Appointment of internal and external auditors
  • Development of an internal audit programme
  • Completion and submission of statutory accounts
  • Completion and submission of all ESFA financial reporting requirements
  • Provision of full financial service to academies
    • Ordering and invoicing for resources
    • Managing income into schools/Trust
    • Procurement
    • Budgeting
    • Analysis
    • Submission of VAT return
    • Administration of bank accounts
  • Provision of all policies and internal controls
  • Payroll provision for all academies
  • Financial strategic support and planning
  • Collective purchasing agreements where appropriate
  • Advice on compliance with the Academy Financial Handbook and the MAT’s financial procedures
  • Advice and guidance as required on procurement procedures

The Finance Team comprises:

  • Nichola Shiells – Finance Manager
  • Val Brown – Finance Officer
  • Chantelle Gillies – Finance Officer
  • Kenny Palmer – Finance Officer

Trust Operational Support Team

This team covers all operational aspects for the Trust and academies to include:

  • Management of Senior/Lead Administrators in the academies to include advice/support/performance management*.
  • Premises/Estates Management
    • Assurance system to ensure a standard approach and reporting system (Every)
    • On-site and phone support
    • Guidance on strategic services for repair and maintenance
    • Estates monitoring visits and checklists
    • Assistance with major projects
    • Assistance with budget planning and planned preventative maintenance
    • Advice with regards to asset tracking (Parago)
  • Trust-wide procurement of contracts, services, resources and regular meetings with key suppliers to continuously improve quality and ensure value for money**
  • Health and Safety service
    • On-site and phone support
    • Statutory compliance guidance and audits
    • Asbestos management plan guidance
    • Advice on risk assessments
    • Fire risk management guidance and support
    • Health and safety guidance and support
    • Policy provision and support
    • Training
  • Data Protection Officer
    • GDPR policy and privacy notices
    • Registration with ICO
    • Data protection office support and audit provision
    • Training and support
  • Submission of DfE and other statutory returns or advice relating to these
  • Provision of a suite of compliant policies including publication on academy websites where required, plus support for the development of school specific policies as required
  • Communication and marketing advice – websites/social media/EdTalk
  • Legal advice sourced as required from external advisors (additional academy contribution may be required depending on the circumstances).
  • Governance support and advice

* Management of academy admin teams remains the responsibility of each individual academy Senior Leadership Team.

** Please note that the procurement of low value or occasional items remains the responsibility of individual academies.

The Estates function is responsible for ensuring building compliance, strategic overview of maintenance and redevelopment projects across the Trust.  The team are also responsible for ensuring our buildings are safe and adhere to Health and Safety standards.

The Operations Team also look after the Trust’s day to day communications needs.  The Team is responsible for overseeing all academy websites, ensuring annual reviews of content and DfE compliance.  In this, PLT are supported by an external consultant.  The team also provides social media set up and monitoring; EdTalk implementation and insights reporting.  PR and all marketing resources are also overseen by the external consultant and the team.

The Operations Team comprises:

  • Jennifer McCreery – Operations Manager
  • Vicky Hall – Executive Support Officer/Data Protection Officer
  • Kevin Sutton – Premises/Estates Officer
  • Jamie Jobling – Communication and Central Services Assistant
  • Charlotte Handy – Communications and Marketing Consultant

Trust HR Service Team

PLT provides academies with an in-house HR advisor who will work to identify and plan strategic HR needs, and will provide pragmatic solutions and options to swiftly bring to a successful conclusion HR issues.  Integral to the service is to deal with HR contractual administration requirements, ensuring all contractual matters are processed, handled and maintained in a professional and secure manner.

The HR Team ensures:

  • Strategic HR lead coordinating Trust wide HR to ensure compliance with policies and practice and the avoidance of time consuming and challenging HR issues
  • Development of all Trust wide HR policies, ensuring they are kept up to date with any changes in legislation
  • Provision of, and training on, a Trust HR database to support effective HR administration throughout the trust
  • Complex casework, investigations e.g. grievance and disciplinary
  • Union consultation
  • In-house training and briefing sessions on relevant HR topics and legislation
  • Provision of HR administrative support to academies to include:
    • Recruitment and retention
    • Personnel information management
    • Liaison with payroll services
    • Support for single central record and safeguarding administration
    • Processing of all contractual appointments, terminations and variations

The HR Team comprises:

  • Rachel Fenwick – HR Manager
  • Joanne Fearns – Senior HR Officer
  • Jessica Mather – Apprentice

Trust IT Support (provided externally by the managed service provider) – Technology plays an important role in our academies and across the Trust.  The managed service provided by Newcastle City Council IT Department supports academies to make the most of technology, resolve issues and benefit from the latest innovations.

  • Provision of an expert team including both local on-site support and a central project and escalation team – sourced externally to the Trust
  • Helpdesk for logging issues
  • Integration into the single Trust-wide domain, to facilitate information sharing and cross-site working across the Trust
  • Trust-wide strategic development of IT to ensure potential for new technologies is harnessed across the Trust
  • IT strategy to support the development and implementation of policies and procedures across the MAT.
  • Management and development of IT staff
  • Management of implementation of new systems and technologies

How we charge for services

As a Trust we retain a percentage of recurring funding to pay for central services.  For services that are not wholly central to the Trust a charge to relevant academy budgets is applied.  This academy contribution to the MAT enables us to provide:

  • Educational support and challenge: central data lead, central compliance and policies lead
  • Financial coherence and sustainability, coherent strategic planning, management of organisation risk
  • Central finance support and audit, HR, policy writing
  • Trust membership of The Key, Schools North East, National Governance Association and Confederation of School Trusts
  • Insurance procured across the MAT
  • Premises/estates management, health and safety services and capital works
  • One shared INSET day per year, shared twilight sessions

As the number of academies in the PLT MAT increases, and the income of the Trust increases, opportunities will be taken to review the provision of central/shared services. These reviews will be performed in the context of the Trust’s need to ensure appropriate use of public funds, and the need to deliver value for money with improved quality in service provision. It is anticipated that the MAT will invest in the provision of some additional central services as the Trust grows, to remove costs from individual schools and provide more efficient and effective services.

Monitoring and review of central services

Central service provision will be reviewed on a bi-annual basis by Trustees to ensure the service is providing a value for money, effective service to the Trust and to the member academies.  As PLT MAT grows the structure of central services will be reviewed and changes considered and approved by Trustees.

Any concerns or issues should be reported to the Finance and Operations Director in the first instance for resolution or reporting to the CEO/Trustees.

Harry Watts Academy
Thomas Bewick School
Newcastle Bridges School
Mary Astell Academy