Inspiring partnerships at our Academy Group Leaders Annual Conference

By Amanda Webb

At the end of last month, academy leaders gathered together in London for our third Academy Group Leaders Annual Conference. We were delighted to see many faces, old and new, join us as we discussed key challenges and opportunities that academy groups are facing.

The theme for this year’s conference was performance, with presentations from industry experts and plenty of facilitated discussion. Not only have we seen the number of attendees grow since our first event in 2014, but we have also increased the number of sessions and included more external presenters. We were delighted to welcome Tim Coulson, Regional Schools Commissioner for East of England and North-East London, as one of our presenters, sharing how MATs are going to be held to account. We were thrilled our popular host Robert Hill, former Prime Ministerial Education Advisor, returned for a third year running, facilitating interesting discussions and questions with our speakers.

Thought-provoking speakers

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank our brilliant presenters for their time and valuable contribution to help make it such a successful day, we received very positive feedback from delegates. It was great to have a line-up of uplifting speakers who highlighted the importance of our conference theme.

Ben Dobson from Reform kicked off proceedings looking at the Single Funding Formula and what the financial performance implications are of this on multi-academy trusts.

Dr Rebecca Allen, Director at Education Datalab, then gave an insight into how we can use data to effectively measure pupil performance and how MATs can use this to predict performance trends. Rebecca’s presentation went on to generate some interesting discussions. While Dr Nick Capstick OBE, discussed shaping the cultural performance at The White Horse Federation, where he is CEO.

It was also great to have Lisa Barton from Academy Transformation Trust supporting our session and share how her trust has been using data to support and inform their decisions. She shared how they’ve been working closely with Capita SIMS to trial our exciting new software developments.

Key trends for academy groups

It was really interesting to learn some of the key issues for academy groups and your thoughts on these. It’s clear that many MATs are planning on growing over the next two years and that managing your staff is a key issue for you. We also asked you what you think delivers value to MATs and a clear trend was having an overview of data across your academies. With this in mind, we were pleased to share with you our new product that we have developed for academy groups – SIMS SchoolView. This a secure, web-based solution that automatically brings key SIMS data to the centre of your academy group. At last year’s event we spoke about aggregating data and bringing it to the centre of your trust, and we took on board your suggestions. Based on this, we developed SIMS SchoolView, which we will be launching in January, and we were pleased to hear such positive feedback from you at the event.

Finally, I would like to thank you - delegates, speakers and SIMS staff - who made the event possible. Building effective partnerships is key, not just within your trusts but also between you and us. That’s why we will continue to work with you to share our developments and create solutions that meet academy groups’ needs. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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