Inclusive audits: Exploring Equality, Diversity and Inclusion with internal scrutiny


Schools and academy trusts are in the people-business; because an academy trust will only ever be as good as the people it employs. This means all MAT leaders have to attract, recruit and retain the best staff they can. When you understand how your arrangements to support and include a wide range of staff are working, or aren't, you have an opportu...

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Multi academy trusts: Looking at the top slice


There are a developing number of stories explaining that MAT top slices are increasing and the number of trusts with fully-centralised functions is also on the rise. But what does this mean for children in schools? The intention behind this movement is that schools should get a better deal and, in turn, this delivers better outcomes for y...

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Paternity policy changes 2024 - here's everything you need to know


The UK government recently published draft regulations around changes to paternity leave policy, due to go live this week on Friday 8th March. The main change to the policy is that it allows fathers or partners to split their statutory paternity leave into single week blocks rather than having to take it all at once, as per previous regulations. Th...

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Are you conducting hidden internal scrutiny?


Using an external partner for internal scrutiny can be a worrying task, with your procedures and practices being put under scrutiny and tested for weaknesses. But is internal scrutiny really a scary prospect?  Schools and trusts are already carrying out internal scrutiny routinely, often on a day-to-day basis, it just isn't nece...

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NEW VIDEO: 7 ways to create a positive culture around internal scrutiny


When it comes to internal scrutiny, often the narrative is one of fear and apprehension, but this needn't be the case. In our latest video, Keystone's Education Leadership Consultant, Matthew Clements-Wheeler, outlines 7 ways you can foster a positive culture around internal scrutiny in your organisation. If you have any questions around internal s...

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​Internal scrutiny for proactive risk management


Internal scrutiny plays an essential part in managing risks in schools and trusts, but whilst traditional methods focus primarily on ensuring compliance with regulations and internal procedures, they often fall short in identifying and addressing hidden risks that lurk beneath the surface. This blog aims to delve deeper into the imperative of enhan...

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5 benefits of internal scrutiny


Internal scrutiny can often be seen as something that's worrying, or a boring compliance piece that gets in the way of day- to-day trust operations. However, effective internal scrutiny can bring multiple benefits to a trust. Here are 5 ways that internal scrutiny can benefit your trust beyond compliance with ESFA regulations: 1. External expertise...

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Meet the team: Stephen Mitchell


Keystone is a company focused on people.  Our approach has always been about creating a culture that genuinely values our team members, as well as being proud of their unique qualities, passion, insider experience and knowledge within the industry. For the first in our 'Meet the Team' series, we start with our Director...

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What are the risks in growing an academy trust?

Expanding your MAT image

The growth of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is an exciting yet challenging journey. As more schools join the trust, the complexity of operations increases, presenting new risks and challenges.  Risks, Rewards & Realism Adding more schools to a trust brings practical and cultural challenges. The volume of routine 'day to day' activities goes ...

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Choosing the right internal scrutiny partner

Choosing the right internal scrutiny partner An infographic showing a man holding a magnifying glass up to a report

Introduction: Selecting the appropriate internal scrutiny partner is the crucial first step in ensuring that your school or trust maximizes the benefits of internal scrutiny. In accordance with the guidelines set out in the Academy Trust Handbook, your internal scrutiny process should encompass a wide range of financial and non-financial controls, ...

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So you’ve had your internal scrutiny report, what next?

Trust improvement through internal scrutiny Trust improvement through internal scrutiny

 Internal scrutiny is a powerful tool for trust improvement, but only if you read the reports and act on the recommendations made. Once you've had your report from your internal scrutiny partner, it's time to take a look at what they found. It might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how often this step gets skipped! According to the Academ...

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Safer recruitment: online candidate checks

Online recruitment checks Safer recruitment online checks

Checking social media and online presence as part of safer recruitment practices was introduced as a 'should' in Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 and as we all know with KCSIE, a 'should' is really an instruction to 'go and do'. The process itself is quite simple, but it can be difficult to know where to start when 'online' is such a broad t...

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The undeniable importance of HR in expanding Multi-Academy Trusts

Trust growth HR supporting trust growth

The role of HR in the expansion of MATs is multifaceted and central to long-term success. As MATs look to expand, strategic and operational HR practices can help or hinder both the attraction of schools to the trust, and the ease with which they convert and are assimilated into trust practices. What is strategic HR and why should expanding MATs car...

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Effective HR in schools: the unseen key to savings

Cost savings with effective HR Cost savings with effective HR

With today's ever-tightening budgets, schools face the challenging task of delivering exceptional education without stretching resources too thin. HR isn't something that automatically springs to mind when looking for cost savings, but effective practices can save both time and money. Let's explore how strategic HR practices can help save costs. Re...

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Responsibilities around filtering and monitoring - KCSIE 2023 update

Changes to KCSIE - Filtering and Monitoring

The latest version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) has been published and comes into force on 1 September 2023. The changes made in KCSIE 2023 are mainly clarifications on existing guidance – the key change that jumps out is around the implementation of the DfE's 'Meeting digital and technology standards in schools and colleges' (the ...

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Great news? Teachers' pay sees an uptick

Teachers' pay award Teachers' pay award

So, the long-awaited announcement is finally here! After painful strikes and heated debates, the government has given its full consent to the STRB's recommendations. What's in it for the teachers? A solid 6.5% pay hike. And the best part? It's not just a reshuffling of old funds but an infusion of fresh money that's fully backed. This is defin...

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Do you audit your approach to income?

Internal Scrutiny Income Audit

The Academy Trust Handbook requires all trusts to have a programme of internal scrutiny to provide independent assurance to the board that its financial and non-financial controls and risk management procedures are operating effectively. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that internal assurance in a trust needs to focus mainly on expendit...

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The 2023 version of thinking outside the box

The 2023 version of 'Thinking outside the box'

"If you're don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less." So goes a quote I read several years ago and became one of those screenshots that I keep on my phone. Brutal, but true. And as school business management continues on its inexorable curve of seemingly getting harder, it's ever more important that we can find creative ways of approach...

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Eyes Wide Open? Growing your trust with thorough due diligence


 As part of the Schools White Paper published nearly 12 months ago, the Government set out it's plan to have to have all schools "in a strong multi-academy trust or with plans to join or form one" within the next eight years. Whilst recent news has talked about this target likely to be missed, the move to greater academisation appears one way....

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Due Diligence case study - OWLS Multi-Academy Trust


Keystone Knowledge recently partnered with OWLS Multi-Academy Trust to conduct due diligence on a new school joining the MAT.  Read about it here. Download PDF File Here

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