The Priory Learning Trust is the second trust to be awarded SchoolMark.


 The Priory Learning Trust (TPLT) is a multi-academy trust based in the Southwest of England. With 8 schools and over 5,000 students. TPLT's values of 'Students First - Cherishing Staff – Serving Communities' have led them to push for best practice. This originally began with embracing their internal scrutiny plans and focusing on their top five risks as per their risk register. This included finance, HR, payroll, governance, IT, estates, and compliance. "We are passionate about education, and we want to lead from the front. We want to be a model trust," explains Mark Antoine (COO).

Mark and Helen Burge (DCOO) of TPLT, first became aware of the SchoolMark accreditation on Twitter. As an SRMA and fellow of the ISBL, it was especially important to Helen to prove that the trust is compliant to the Trustees & academy governors. "The advice that SchoolMark offers as part of the process was also a huge bonus,' says Helen, 'so that we can continue to improve, no matter the grade."

Students at King Alfred's School 

There was some apprehension that the process may lead to additional work for the finance team, particularly as they started the process while preparing TPLT's year end. However, the SchoolMark process uses documents that are produced as part of the normal financial year to DfE & ESFA requirements. "Actually, it was a confidence boost to know that we had all the right documents at the right time," says Helen.

The Priory Learning Trust's commitment to best practice allowed them to easily reach the 80% needed to pass the 9 areas of scrutiny and gain the SchoolMark accreditation. "In many ways, as a peer review, it confirmed what we always knew – that we have robust finance and governance. Now we are able to further confirm that to our Trustees and others outside of the Trust" said Mark.

"We're not perfect," says Mark, "but like most Trusts, we are in an ongoing process of reviewing, revisiting, benchmarking and scrutiny to ensure we are as robust and compliant as we can be and SchoolMark has been a great step in confirming this." Helen adds, "We want to embrace best practice to improve the outcomes for our pupils. That's ultimately why we're in education – to make a difference."

SchoolMark is a quality assurance scheme that was developed with the DfE and is awarded by the ISBL. If you would like more information, go to

Achieving best practice with SchoolMark
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