Why every MAT needs a stakeholder report

What began as part of our communication strategy has grown to be fundamental to how we foster belonging and accountability to our communities

What began as part of our communication strategy has grown to be fundamental to how we foster belonging and accountability to our communities

1 Apr 2024, 5:00

At the Tapscott Learning Trust (TTLT), we firmly believe that we are central to the communities we serve and accountable to them. We do not operate a one-size-fits-all approach to our policies and practices because the diversity of our schools, even in a relatively small geographical area, is significant. We always want to ensure that we have excellent relationships with all of our stakeholders and offer them a fantastic provision that works in partnership with all to allow our children to be healthy, happy and successful.

We believe that good communication is essential in developing and maintaining organisations and relationships therein. Our aim is therefore to ensure that we have effective ways in which to communicate. We first discussed the idea of a stakeholder report that would be accessible to everyone at our trust’s very inception. However, we couldn’t find any examples in the sector, so we had to start from scratch.

Most of the information we put into the report can be found on our websites, reports or in the trustees’ annual report and accounts. However, we wanted to bring the key information into one place and ensure it was accessible to all stakeholders.

For example, we knew they felt the trustee’s report to be very technical, not engaging or easy to access. It was obvious that we could not just rely on this to inform our wider audience, especially our parents, children and wider communities.

The consensus was to create a visual and engaging snapshot of our activity, so after consultation, we identified some key areas to focus on. When it came to the trust, stakeholders wanted to know about our vision, values and aims, the role and structure of governance, our operations and performance. They also wanted information about each of our schools, including their key achievements and what they offer to their communities.

The response to the first report was hugely successful. In fact, it was even recognised by the then-national schools commissioner, Sir David Carter as “one of the best I have seen”. We also received a lot of interest from others across the sector, keen to emulate the model.

We thought this could be beneficial. We now believe it’s essential

The annual report has allowed us to communicate and react to key events and ensure that our responses are transparent. This was especially useful during the Covid pandemic.

And over the years since, we have tweaked and developed it and how we share it with everyone. We’ve made it more focused and aligned with our vision, values and aims, and feedback has helped us to develop its contents by focusing on the specific aspects of our provision stakeholders care about, including, for example our equality, diversity and inclusion work.

The chief impact of this work has been to create an increased sense of belonging and feeling part of the trust for all. The launch of our report is an annual event and feedback from our stakeholders confirms that they find it incredibly useful.

Where we once thought this work could be beneficial, we now believe it to be essential, especially in the wake of the landmark study regarding parental attitudes to school absence. Our stakeholder report has played a significant role in ensuring continued, effective relationships and also communicating the importance and impact of coming to school.

It holds us to account too. It compares the provision in our schools and celebrates their successes. And most importantly, our children tell us that they feel very proud of being not only part of their school but also the trust.

There can be no doubt that the report has been wide-reaching and contributed to many of our successes. In a survey last year, 94 per cent of parents stated that they would recommend the school their child attends to other parents. Meanwhile, our staff retention rate is 98 per cent.

Our stakeholder report is central to driving the activity that delivers these results. Like Sir David Carter, I believe every trust should have one.

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