The East Midlands Academy Trust is a medium-sized MAT, based in Northamptonshire and the first Trust to receive the SchoolMark accreditation. Although already secure that their resource management was of high quality, EMAT saw SchoolMark as an opportunity to review their work and externally validate their success.

COO of EMAT, Paul Wheeler, says: "SchoolMark gave us validation that what we are doing is right. As a trust we strive to do the very best for our pupils and to provide every one of them with outstanding teaching and leadership. In order to achieve that, we need to manage our resources effectively."

EMAT's senior leadership team came together at the beginning of their SchoolMark journey to discuss the accreditation's definitions and what evidence they would need to fill out the self-assessment. While these meetings helped the team to gather the documents, it also provided a vital opportunity to reassess their strategy. "For EMAT, the real power with SchoolMark was that it made us sit as a team and really look at how the different areas of resource management work together" says Paul "as an internal exercise, it made us reassess what our processes were and reaffirmed why we work in certain ways."

Stephen Mitchell presents COO Paul Wheeler with EMAT's plaque

SchoolMark uses 32 questions to cover 9 areas of resource management, including governance and finance. Using these questions as a starting point, EMAT looked at where they could make improvements, like connecting their governance more deeply to other aspects of school life. "SchoolMark confirmed that we have a connection throughout the trust, however now we have a complete flow from our governors to our headteachers", says Paul.

EMAT considers all parts of school business management to be important, but as with all good trusts, there is a particular emphasis on ensuring that finance is managed effectively. Schools have been under increased financial pressure in the last few years with rising inflation, energy costs, and wages. "We are lucky to have solid money management", says Paul, "we work hard to ensure our core funding covers our core costs, even in these changeable times." This comprehensive school business management also applies to EMAT's use of additional funding, with spend for supplementary income such as the Catch-Up funding, carefully budgeted and monitored to ensure that the money is being spent effectively, for the benefit of the children in the trust.

The SchoolMark process provided EMAT's leadership team with feedback, via a report and in a verbal feedback session. "The feedback was useful to reaffirm what we thought we knew, with some useful tips that we can incorporate into our resource management going forward." Said Paul.

Stephen Mitchell, co-founder of SchoolMark, said: "By achieving the SchoolMark accreditation, EMAT have proved to themselves and their stakeholders that they have robust procedures and processes in place and that their resources are being managed efficiently to provide the best possible education for the children at their schools. Congratulations EMAT!"