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Due Diligence process for voluntary converters wishing to join

"Underpinning our vision is a strong emphasis on the community that each school serves – we recognise the importance of this in achieving educational success for all students."


Central Funding and Appeals Policy

It is important that a full and frank discussion of the school’s situation and rationale for wishing to join Areté Learning Trust takes place before the trust is named within the conversion application. Governors and Headteachers will be provided with the trust’s Business Plan and any other relevant documentation so they are fully aware of the vision, aims and position of the trust.

The applicant school will be expected to provide the information required to ensure a full due diligence process can be carried out. This is in the interest of both the applicant school and the trust and is the foundation of a long-term relationship of trust and collaboration.

KEY PRINCIPLES – Established prior to due diligence processes being implemented

  • The school’s vision and ethos are in harmony with the trust’s vision
  • The school will engage in mutual school to school partnership to develop and innovate
  • The school will contribute to the development of the trust as a whole, commensurate with performance and capacity
  • The school agrees to adopt a scheme of delegation and top-slice which will be mutually agreed between trust and applicant school for central services
  • The school agrees to participate fully in an annual review to validate and moderate school


  • In the event of financial or school performance causing serious concern, the school accepts that the level of delegated powers will be reviewed

About the Trust and our governance structure

Areté Learning Trust was incorporated in April 2015 as a Charitable Trust and Company Limited by Guarantee. As such our Board ensures that the trust complies with charity and company law requirements.

As a Multi Academy Trust, the Board of Directors is appointed by the members and is responsible for the governance of all of the academies in the trust. We do this by delegating functions to the Local Governing Body of each academy through a Scheme of Delegation. Individual academies are therefore represented within ALT and can be confident that their interests are well represented.

The trust holds ultimate responsibility for all decisions regarding the running of its individual academies. However, whilst key functions and services such as finance and budgeting, payroll and HR, premises, maintenance and ICT, insurance and admissions can be managed and supported centrally where appropriate, ALT delegates decisions relating to the curriculum, learning and teaching to the governing bodies of the individual academies. This enables more focused local control, though the trust remains legally responsible for standards across all of its academies. To this end, we encourage a strong emphasis on learning, teaching and students’ progress, rigorous monitoring and self-evaluation at a local level. The CEO ensures this is the central concern of all governing bodies and works to develop a strong and collaborative link between trust academies to secure continuous improvement.

Underpinning our vision is a strong emphasis on the community that each school serves – we recognise the importance of this in achieving educational success for all students

We value the identity of the individual academy, its ethos, and the links the school has with its community, including families, partner schools, local organisations and businesses. ALT academies should be at the heart of their community. ALT directors believe that best results will be achieved when academies within the trust have a level of responsibility and autonomy appropriate to their specific circumstances.


The principles by which we manage the trust are therefore:

  • high-quality learning and teaching – as our primary focus
  • transparency – to sharpen accountability and drive improvement
  • trust – where there is strong performance, confidence in the school leaders to lead
  • efficiency – operating a simple, efficient, low-cost organisation
  • effectiveness – using our shared resources to gain greatest impact
  • strong school leadership and governance

Areté Learning Trust is accountable for the performance of all our academies but individual schools can benefit from the flexibility and economies of scale that the trust offers to manage the funding available, which is allocated on an individual academy basis. The trust delegates as much or as little power to the local governing bodies of the schools involved as is appropriate, according to their circumstances.

Due diligence performance and effectiveness review

Performance Review will be led by the CEO in collaboration with the school’s senior leadership. This will take full account of the school’s own evaluation and will prioritise –

  • the achievement of pupils at the school
  • the quality of teaching at the school
  • the behaviour and safety of children at the school
  • the quality of leadership in and management of the school, including governance
  • most recent Ofsted inspection and progress towards achieving the improvement priorities
  • other sources of information – L.A. reviews, etc.
  • the validity of the school’s self-evaluation


  • a full evaluation of all assessment of non-teaching functions, including financial viability and liabilities, premises (capacity / suitability / maintenance) H.R. and legal issues

The review will inform

  • discussion with the Regional School Commissioner regarding the application to join the trust
  • the nature of any mandatory improvement/change required in order for the school to enter the trust
  • the level of delegation the trust is prepared to pass to the local governing body

Outline of Due Diligence process for voluntary converters wishing to join Areté Learning Trust


  • performance data (SATS test results – Primary Schools; Inspection Dashboard; Raiseonline, ALPS, L3VA, etc.)
  • Ofsted reports
  • other review/inspection evidence
  • self-evaluation documents
  • internal progress tracking data

2. Financial

  • financial information for the past three years, financial projections, audit reports, capital assets and commitments
  • an audit of finance and risk will be commissioned if necessary, the cost of which will be borne by the applicant school
  • approval for access to information from the local authority and/or foundation will be required from the applicant school

3. Leadership and governance

  • discussion with key senior leaders and governors
  • minutes
  • impact of improvement planning
  • school performance data 

4. Organisational

  • current and planned curriculum model and staffing ratios
  • any ongoing or unresolved staffing issues
  • pay policy, pay scales, staffing structure, current salaries and grades of all staff
  • job descriptions, appraisal and other key policies

5. Legal

  • all assets, agreements and contracts including the title to the school and liabilities which may be associated with these

6. Commercial

  • any additional contracts which will need to be entered into in order to continue to operate, including for example data and finance systems.
  • any commercial arrangements currently held with the L.A. or through which the L.A. is operating on behalf of the school

7. Demographic, community, social and regional issues/information

8. Capacity

  • careful consideration to be given to the capacity of the trust to develop and to provide a high quality service without compromise to standards and service in any of ALT academies
  • cost to trust of applicant school joining ALT

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