Radcliffe Hall Primary School pupils
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Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that there is much to consider when joining a Trust. The decisions your school makes affects not only the children and community of today, but also of tomorrow.

We hope the information that we have added on this page is useful and will update it with any other commonly asked questions as they arise.

The most commonly mentioned benefits experienced from joining a Trust were reported as:

  • An improved sense of direction and purpose
  • Improved outcomes for pupils
  • Improved training for staff
  • Reduction in teacher workload
  • Improvements to teacher recruitment and retention
  • Improvements to the school’s reputation and image
  • A greater ability to direct resources, enabling teachers to concentrate on frontline teaching
  • Cost savings and efficiencies
  • Improved quality of school leadership and school governance
  • Improved curriculum resources.

Some common misconceptions reported as fears about joining a Trust include:

  • Fear about losing autonomy
  • Fear regarding a loss of school identity
  • Not being fully convinced, or aware of the benefits to the school from joining a Trust

Planned Events to Learn More About Our Trust

It is important that we begin to build Trust from the outset. That includes having transparent conversations where we can discuss any queries that you have. We will be arranging some events to enable those schools who are interested in learning more to come and hear about our Trust, and to ask any questions you may have. You will also have the opportunity to speak with those who are already a part of Sycamore Church of England Trust to see what their experience has been. 

If you are interested in attending, please do not hesitate to contact our Central Team to reserve your place. 

Whatever your question, we want to help and to share what makes being part of our Trust so unique. 

Will there be a loss of school identity?

We encourage each of our schools to celebrate its distinctive identity within our small trust community. For example, when considering branding this has been led by schools. Stakeholder feedback has been sought when updating logos to ensure they remain reflective of the school whilst being incorporated into the Trust brand. 

We believe in nurturing the values of each individual school and keeping the trust in their service, not vice versa. We are constantly seeking best practice and new thinking and recognise that most of this comes from schools within the Trust.

Current Headteachers advise:

"Christ Church MAT takes an individualistic approach to supporting its schools and recognises that each establishment needs to be viewed in terms of its context, location and community.  This means that there is no ‘one size fits all’ methodology across the trust but we are able to support each other to develop and thrive by bringing our own unique experiences to the table" (Elizabeth Cook, 2023).

"Despite being the lead school historically, soon to be one of a larger group of schools, with no ‘lead’, Christ Church has retained its distinctiveness and the MAT has never expected schools to become ‘clones’ of each other. We serve very different contexts and serving the needs of our pupils and communities remains the core purpose of each school. However, having a central team ensures we share key core policies, we share values and we are able to collaborate to make our schools stronger" (Sarah Howard, 2023).

Will I lose all autonomy within my school?

We wanted to share the experience from our Headteachers in response to this question:

"As a headteacher I have autonomy within my school and am able to make key strategic decisions about staffing, curriculum and school organisation.  I also have day to day responsibility for financial decisions and have a great deal of input into wider budget decisions" (Elizabeth Cook, 2023).

"I still retain autonomy as the Head Teacher of Christ Church but benefit from MAT support, as well as being ‘held to account’ for my decisions and actions by the Trust and provided with guidance. We are still engaged with our local cluster, some LA services and colleagues from across the Borough. Peer and curriculum reviews regularly take place" (Sarah Howard, 2023).

What is the levy each school must pay and what services are included within this?

Our schools come to us at different places on the school improvement journey. How do we classify the level of support and inspiration for our schools?


This is for schools that are already performing well and are judged to be good’ or ‘outstanding’. Schools may already be a converter academy or want us to manage the conversion process. As a supporting school, schools will want to play a key role in supporting other academies in the Trust. Schools are likely to have strong governors who are willing to support others at the local level. 


This is for schools that require a partner for conversion to academy status. They are likely to be judged as ‘requiring improvement’. By joining the Trust, schools will benefit from a high level of school improvement support both at school and governance level. We aim for all our supported schools to become self-supporting as quickly as possible.


This is the best route for schools identified by the Department for Education as requiring a sponsor. The trust will oversee the academy conversion process and ensure that the school receives all the necessary intensive support to improve rapidly. As soon as the school is out of special measures, we aim for all sponsor schools to be self-supporting as quickly as possible.

The levy is differentiated according to where the school is at within their journey. For example, sponsored and supported schools may require additional school improvement support and therefore the levy for these schools will be higher than those supporting schools. This is because, supporting schools are capacity givers and will play a key role in supporting other academies within the Trust.

No matter where you are on your journey, our aim is to get all schools within our Trust to become supporting schools.

Please can you share with us your Trust wide Development / Growth plan?

For full transparency we have added our Growth Strategy to this page to allow you to see this in full.

Where can I find the Trust’s Scheme of Delegation?

We have added this under Useful Documents When Considering Academy Conversion, on this page.

Would there be an opportunity to visit one of the schools in the Trust?

Yes, absolutely. Our schools are part of the Trust family and will be delighted to show you around and share with you their first hand experience of being part of the Christ Church CE MAT.

Please contact the Central Team who will be happy to arrange this for you.