Shared Services is led by the Finance Director and Chief Operating Officer, Stuart White, and encompasses Finance, IT, Data, Facilities and Compliance, Business Development & Administration, and Catering & Leisure Services.
Shared Services is structured to deliver exceptional value for money and a high standard of services. The model ensures that the return on the allocation of scarce financial resources and the value of the services provided to the children and staff of the Trust are maximised.
Staff are by far the largest cost any academy trust incurs, and with finite financial resources, an inefficient support staff structure unnecessarily diverts funds away from the classroom. The shared services model removes duplication of function and related staffing by the consolidation of the staffing model into single teams supporting all schools in the Trust. The shared services teams are led by a single functional lead for the Trust, reporting to Stuart. The managers of each team are experts in their fields; recruitment ensures that the people within each team have specific experience and qualification. Investment in professional training and personal development across all teams, complements the organisational structure ensuring that the Trust maximises the staffing resource available.
The financial economy of scale resulting from the consolidation of functional teams is enormous. The focus on highly skilled shared services managers combined with professional development programmes ensures a high value service. The formula delivers a significantly reduced shared cost and a significantly enhanced service for all schools in the trust, regardless of their size. Less is indeed more!
Stuart and the shared services management team are the business partners of the Heads and the CEO. Shared Services unencumber the Heads and the school SLTS from having to invest time in any of the functions and operations included within shared services. Rather, these functions are managed on behalf of the Heads, allowing much more of their energy to be focused where its impact will be the greatest: on the education of the children: the perfect example of the right way to achieve value for money and high impact by aligning skill sets with the task in hand.
At ESW, “Finance” is not a passive recorder of historical activity but a proactive contributor to direction of the Trust and to the delivery of the Trusts goals. The integrated shared services structure is an important element of strong financial management and controlled allocation of revenue and capital resources, because it provides a trust wide perspective on all aspects of the trusts cost base, permitting joined-up control, management and planning.
The Finance team are based in one location and perform all of the finance functions for all of the schools in the Trust.
The core finance team is led by Andrew Dodden and comprises 8 staff, 2 of them part time. In addition to the core team, 2 people manage the in-house payroll function and personnel record keeping for the 700 staff and casual or supply staff.
The finance team provide:
internal management accounting reports
planning ,management and control budgets and expenditure
financial business partnering for the catering and leisure operation, preschools, IT services, Facilities, and Marketing
capital planning and financial management of capital projects
all external ESFA reporting
production of statutory accounts (all completed in house) and management of the external audit process
an in-house payroll service
The ESW Heads are very appreciative of the expertise of the team and the confidence which this gives them in knowing that the finances of the schools are secure. In a recent review, Heads feedback included : “Budget setting is an excellent iterative process, and the support is awesome”.
A recruitment strategy which has ensured the appointment of highly qualified professionals means that the ESW IT team are a highly expert team and are completely self-reliant with respect to the management of the entire hardware and software infrastructure.
The ESW IT team lead the way with respect to ensuring that the IT platforms remain current and that innovation in the IT sector is understood and considered as part of the overall strategic plan for schools and the Trust as a whole.Like all shared services leaders the IT Manager provides expert partnership to Heads and senior management across the Trust.
Education South West holds the following industry standards with respect to cyber security:
Cyber Essentials Plus
IASME (Standard Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises) Gold
The Data team is one of the first totally centralised data teams in the world of multi-academy trusts; the team is a small and very effective and efficient team of the equivalent of only 3 people.The formation of the team significantly reduced the total staffing resources previously connected to each individual school, repaired processes which had become too dispersed across far too many people, enhanced the accuracy and consistency of data, and completely unencumbered senior educational leaders from, crunching data (as opposed to using data).
The centralised function provides standardised analysis and reporting from common platforms. The efficiency gains mean that capacity is released for the team to extend the application of data analysis, greatly assisting Heads and SLT in making better use of the information available.
The team are responsible for a wide spectrum of services, by example : the management of the consolidated MIS database, management of all admissions data onboarding, assessment data collation, analysis and reporting, parental reporting, attendance reporting, behaviour tracking, census, class groups, mark books, cohort analysis, Dfe returns, exam results and analysis, exclusion tracking, free school meal registrations, options, parental engagement, sixth form course data, pupil premium data, as well as reporting to senior management and the Trust Board.
In a recent review Heads feedback was summarised with the comment “Brilliant, responsive, proactive. Couldn’t do more – a gem”.
Facilities and Compliance
The Facilities and Compliance team is led by Zoe Williamson, who is also the Data Protection Officer for the Trust.
The Facilities and Compliance team is managed as one team across the Trust, albeit site teams and cleaning teams are assigned to one/or more than one school.The one-team approach with respect to the operational site supervisors, maintenance caretakers, and cleaners maximises the flexibility of resource management, including the sharing of specialist skills which reside in different members of the team. The leadership and administration of the team is centralised resulting in an effective and efficient management of the facilities across the Trust.
The team are responsible for delivering all building maintenance and development projects, health and safety and statutory compliance, and management of the Trusts’ estate. Zoe is also the Data Protection Officer for the Trust.
In a recent review Heads feedback was summarised with the comment “Brilliant, very quick and approachable, with no request for help seen as too small”
Business Development & Administration
The Business Development & Administration team is led by Lesley Whitley.
A mixed portfolio of responsibilities resides with this team which includes:
Marketing and admissions
Business Administration and Resources
All procurement for all schools is centralised, in order to ensure tight control over expenditure and access to the best market prices; schools are not permitted to purchase goods and services directly.The system is efficient and effective, ensuring that all schools received the resources which they need.
Marketing and admissions are paired to ensure a high level of focus on growing the rolls of all of the schools, and providing a high degree of service and support to prospective parents.
The efficiency of the team is reflected in the numbers of staff, with only 1 person required to manage the day to day purchasing for the whole trust, and less than 4 staff producing all of the teaching consumables.
In a recent review Heads commented on the high level of professionalism and the superb support always provided by the team
Catering for all schools is in-house with no reliance on external contract caterers. This enables us to deliver financial value for money and control the quality of the food provided for students and staff, and adapt and change to meet changing circumstances.
The principles of business are applied to how the catering operation is run.Our students are our customers and that remains the philosophy underpinning the choices we provide, the quality of presentation and the open communication channel between the students and the leaders of the catering operation. Strong business management means implementing our own procurement framework to ensure that we can receive the best service and product at the best price.Business partnering with the finance team ensures that the operation remains self-sufficient and does not drain school funds.
Appetising, healthy and nutritional menus are central to the catering delivery.No better example of this is the Food for Life scheme which has been rolled out to all of the primary schools in the Trust, with Blackawton Primary school winning first prize from the overseeing body 2019.