Trusts and LA-maintained Schools: Would a formal trust partnership work for you? 

by Paul Cohen, Deputy Director for School Improvement and Multi-Academy Trust Growth, Department for Education

Trust partnerships, or ‘try before you buy’ arrangements are not new, but they have typically linked strong schools and trusts to those which are facing challenges. In other words, a largely one-way arrangement.
Now, with the growth in the number of academies, new types of trust partnerships are happening where high-performing trusts and LA-maintained schools are deciding to collaborate to share knowledge and expertise, and to explore, without prior commitment, whether there would be mutual benefit in the school eventually joining the trust. 

Flying High Trust and Hawthorne Primary School worked together in this form of new partnership and have now decided to make the arrangement permanent. The partnership gave both parties a detailed understanding of each other’s priorities and expertise. This built confidence in both staff and governors that Hawthorne formally joining Flying High would bring long-term benefits to both parties.  Hawthorne is pleased to be formally joining the trust later this year. 

I encourage successful maintained schools and trusts to explore if a formal trust partnership arrangement would work for them.  We have published a short guidance document for schools and trusts to use. It includes a draft service level agreement as schools and trusts have told us that these can provide a clear way of setting out how the partnership will work, expectations on both sides, and agreements for any exchange of resources. 

I am keen to hear from schools and trusts who are working in partnerships and learn from your experience, please email

Paul Cohen is Deputy Director for School Improvement and Multi-Academy Trust Growth at the Department for Education.

Posted: 12/10/2021 14:22:11