These are a selection of the most common questions we have been asked. They also cover some of the common misconceptions we have encountered about joining our Trust.

What is the Good Shepherd Trust?

The Good Shepherd Trust is a multi-academy trust.

A multi-academy trust is a group of independent, self-governing schools that are funded directly by the Department for Education (DfE) rather than via the local authority (LA). Governance of a Trust like ours is overseen by a Board of Directors which functions in much the same way as a Board of Governors does for a single school, though the Board of Directors of a Trust is accountable to the DfE rather than the LA.

How much are the Trust's Directors paid?

As charity Trustees, our Directors are all volunteers and bring a wide variety of skills and experience to benefit our family of schools.

What is the Trust's track record with schools?

We are backed by the Church of England, which is the largest provider of education in the country and are proud of helping all our schools become more financially resilient, reduce their administrative workload and refresh their focus on teaching and learning.

What does joining the Good Shepherd Trust mean for our staff?

We aim to match the pay and benefits of maintained schools run by the LA and additionally work closely with our schools to minimise any unnecessary workload.

We follow the nationally agreed frameworks for pay and conditions framework for both teachers and support staff. We also have a union recognition agreement in place and have established good relationships with all the relevant unions.

In line with our core values, we also work hard to look after the health and mental well-being of all staff and encourage schools to seek opportunities for staff development across the Trust.

Will we have to change our vision and ethos as a school to join the Good Shepherd Trust?

Absolutely not! We encourage all our schools to maintain and strengthen their unique identity and ethos.

Will we have to change our school name, badge, uniform or other aspects of our identity?

Absolutely not! While joining the Good Shepherd family of schools does provide an opportunity to make changes to a school's identity, all of the schools that have joined so far have chosen to retain their existing name, badge, uniform etc.

Will we lose our current level of autonomy?

Before schools join us, we agree a Scheme of Delegation with them in much the same way as the LA does for each of its schools. Schools that are currently operating successfully can expect to retain the same degree of autonomy as they currently have with the LA.

Will we lose control of our school finances?

Again, absolutely not! Your school's finances are ring fenced for your school alone, including your school fund and any surplus you may have built up. We do not claw back surplus funds.

You will also receive the same devolved formula capital funding allowance as you do as a maintained school, and will additionally be eligible to bid for funds from the government's Condition Improvement Fund. In addition, VA schools joining the Trust will no longer have to pay the governors' 10% or VAT on capital projects.

As a successful school, it is for your school's finance committee to decide how to spend your delegated budget, school fund and any surplus within the framework of the Academies Financial Handbook.

Do community schools have to become church schools to join the Good Shepherd Trust?

No. The Good Shepherd Trust is a mixed multi academy trust, which means that both church schools and community schools can join, while retaining their existing character. For example, Lorton School  joined the Good Shepherd Trust in 2017 and continues to retain its non-religious character. 

What is the process and timing for joining the Good Shepherd Trust?

Once a school's governing body has decided to begin the process of joining the Good Shepherd's family of schools, the Trust's central team and Directors will provide support every step of the way to ensure a seamless transition for everyone involved.

The first step is to consult with all the school's stakeholders, including parents and staff. Informed by this consultation, the school's governing body will then decide whether to proceed with applying for an academy order from the DfE to release a start up grant - which currently starts at £25,000 - to pay for the legal and other costs associated with joining The Good Shepherd.

The next step is when the main work takes place - both the Trust and the school will need to undertake due diligence, agree a Scheme of Delegation, resolve any issues regarding ownership of land and buildings and prepare to transfer staff to the Good Shepherd Trust. But don't worry, there's a great deal of support available for schools to carry out the necessary work as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Once this detailed work has been concluded to the satisfaction of both the school and the Trust, the school's governing body will then decide whether to agree to the signing of the DfE's Supplementary Funding Agreement to finalise the conversion. Only at this point does joining the Trust become legally binding.

Most schools are able to complete this process in four to six months. Conversion can take place at any time during the year on the 1st of a month.

Will our school still be inspected by Ofsted if we join the Good Shepherd Trust?

Yes, our schools are subject to the same inspection programme as other publicly funded schools. However, new schools that join are not normally inspected by Ofsted until the third year following conversion.