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Our approach to School Improvement

Our School Improvement Strategy is built around our ambition for “Excellence Every Day”


Our strategy aims to enable each school to develop and sustain their capacity for improvement. It is intrinsically linked to our Growing Ambition: Staff Development Strategy.  For Illuminate Minds, putting children at the heart of everything we do is a non-negotiable.  However, we recognise that in order to provide our pupils with the highest quality educational offer investment in our staff and their growth is key.  Providing our pupils with the highest standards of teaching and learning and supporting their personal development are central to our School Improvement Strategy.

Our approach to school improvement is firmly situated within the concept of strong collaboration so that the skills and talents that exist within the Trust’s schools can be shared and benefit all our pupils. It is informed by evidence-based models and current educational research. The Trust is a member of The Confederation of Schools Trust (CST). This ensures we keep pace with the latest research and evidence to inform our schools' improvement. 

Educational improvement is a never ending journey.  We know that schools which believe they have “arrived” and sit still will naturally eventually slip backwards.  Therefore, our expectation is that all of our schools actively engage in school improvement and seek to continually aim higher.  We believe in innovation, co-creation and collaboration, practical advice and practitioner modelling.  We encourage an outward-facing approach, not only in terms of research and development, but also in terms of schools building relationships both within and beyond the trust to see different approaches and understand how schools tackle specific issues and secure improvement.

We recognise that every school has its strengths and there is much to celebrate in every school but each one will be at a different stage on their improvement journey.  We also recognise schools can be impacted by significant barriers along the way and our school improvement approach will remain evidence-informed, responsive and proportionate to a school’s improvement needs over time.  This approach allows the Trust to build and strengthen our capacity to support more schools either through growth or partnership arrangements.


School Improvement Capacity

In assessing school improvement capacity, we  consider these  five fundamentals as identified in Knowledge-Building, School Improvement at Scale 2021:

  1. Establishing school improvement capacity.
  2. Undertaking forensic analysis of school improvement.
  3. Supporting and deploying leadership.
  4. Providing access to expert practice and expertise.
  5. Monitoring improvements and measuring impact – assessing the quality of provision and pupil outcomes.


Our Improvement Model

Our model has a tiered approach to school improvement but equally recognises that there has to be fluidity between the stages to allow for bespoke support and targeted interventions which are built around a forensic knowledge of the school and its context.



  • Requires significant improvement to the quality of education and / or safeguarding with limited leadership capacity to improve.
  • No foundations to the values or vision – words only rather than embedded culture and expectations.
  • Lack of clarity around staff roles and responsibilities.
  • Staff wellbeing compromised by poor communication and lack of clarity from leadership.
  • Crisis or responsive management and no forward-planning.
  • Limited procedures, systems, strategies and / or policies.
  • Ineffective safeguarding practices.
  • Unclear systems for managing behaviour and promoting positive relationships.
  • Confused and ineffective governance.
  • Disjointed engagement with parents.
  • Narrowed curriculum offer.
  • Outdated curriculum.
  • No teaching and learning philosophy.



  • Leaders in place to establish culture, expectations, ethos and standards and deliver the Trust vision.
  • Leaders establish control and operational management of the school.
  • Improvement at pace – a methodical approach to school improvement with targeted action plan reviewed every half term.
  • High leadership visibility and direction.
  • Beginnings of distributed leadership with tight controls and monitoring systems.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities communicated through a review of job descriptions and organigrams.
  • Establishment of policies and procedures, systems and processes.
  • Planning ahead – moving away from reactive decision-making.
  • Improving outcomes for pupils: setting high expectations of attendance and progress and providing staff with the necessary training and support to facilitate this.
  • Non-negotiables are being developed to ensure consistency.
  • Staff are in the process of being upskilled to deliver the inclusive SEND strategy of the trust.
  • Devising an appropriate curriculum model where intent, implementation and impact our clearly articulated.
  • Intervening to ensure governance compliance through systems and policies.
  • Building relationships with stakeholders.



  • Increased distribution of roles and responsibilities, greater leadership development of others with the vision and culture embedded throughout the school.
  • School able to engage in collaboration and school to school support.
  • Embedding of systems and procedures.
  • Policies well understood by all.
  • Well-thought out curriculum model with clarity of intent, implementation and impact articulated to all.
  • Capacity strengthened through succession planning strategy.
  • Staff development is planned and scheduled throughout the year and links to the school development plan.
  • Teaching and Learning Philosophy is well understood and expectations of all are clear.
  • Monitoring schedule is in place.
  • Structured conversations to raise attainment take place half termly.
  • Inclusive approaches are valued and recognised as a non-negotiable.
  • The SEND strategy is being led effectively in the school and staff are developing confidence and expertise in its delivery.
  • Robust self-evaluation which is distributed and includes the wider staff team in its development and equally is well communicated to all staff.
  • Outcomes for pupils are in line with national benchmarks.
  • Non-negotiables are established and understood.
  • Safeguarding is effective and safeguarding practices are embedded within the culture of the school.
  • Strong communication with parents and other stakeholders.
  • Governance is compliant and challenging to drive improvement.



  • Strong performance in all areas.
  • Increased innovation.
  • Secure leadership who provide excellent direction for the school.
  • Strategic planning is robust and systems and procedures are fully embedded.
  • Policies are consistently adhered to.
  • Model of good practice across the trust and with capacity to share expertise with others.
  • Talent management and career pathways are embedded in the 3-5 year plan for the school.
  • Safeguarding is woven throughout all practices.
  • Outcomes for pupils are exceptional and above national benchmarks.
  • Inclusion is at the heart of the school’s culture.
  • The SEND strategy is fully embedded and there is little to no variance in the performance of different groups.
  • Strong performance of pupils and staff.
  • Capacity within the school to lead on specific school improvement areas and offer support beyond the trust.
  • Governance is strong and drives continual improvement through challenge, engagement and joint strategic planning with senior leaders.





    Contact Us

    Illuminate Minds Trust, Pelham Road, Bexleyheath, Kent, DA7 4HL

    Telephone: 0208 303 6556 Email: