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School Improvement Strategy

School Improvement at Ebor Academy Trust – 2023/34

For context: Ebor Academy Trust vision

To deliver high quality, rich and engaging education at the heart of our diverse communities. To do this, we are committed to building professional collaborations of best practice across and beyond the Trust. In this way, we seek to enable all our learners to flourish and open doors to their best futures.


There are 23 primary schools in Ebor Academy Trust. These include one Primary Special School, one federation and ten Church Of England schools. In May 2023 17 schools were judged Good or better at their most recent inspection, 6 were graded RI and no school was graded as inadequate. 4 schools were graded Inadequate before joining the trust, of these schools 3 are now graded as Good and one has improved to RI.

  • Our schools are in different geographical areas across 4 local authorities and operate in very different contexts, so it’s important that our improvement strategy and support for these schools reflects this. We deploy a hybrid model where standardisation and uniqueness work hand-in-hand to ensure that outcomes, school improvement and professional development contribute to making all our schools the best that they can be. 
  • We have been a beacon of best practice in Early Years provision and for many years worked in partnership with Early Excellence to support both our own and schools outside the trust, to develop staff and raise outcomes for our youngest children. 
  • Phonics outcomes have been historically strong and all our schools use one of two approved Systematic Synthetic Phonics programmes to ensure effective collaboration in a shared professional language is effective. 
  • All our schools use the prioritised approach to teaching maths through the NCETM and we are sector leaders in the delivery and implementation of the Teacher Research Group approach to sharing best practice in maths. 
  • Our schools develop their own curricula beyond this, working in collaboration with our academy subject specialists, that reflect their own unique contexts.  
  • We have demonstrated an upward trend in outcomes in reading, writing and maths at both KS1 and KS2 since the trust was formed which is now exceeding national outcomes in an increasing number of areas; this is set against the backdrop of sponsoring and converting many of our current schools with datasets below national averages.
  • We believe in developing professional practice to ensure that every child has a great teacher in every classroom. 
  • We are a strategic partner in both the Pathfinder Teaching School Hub and Yorkshire Wolds SCITT and have significant numbers of staff both participating in, and delivering NPQ training across our TSH area. 
  • We are an accredited apprenticeship provider to all staff within and beyond our trust, this was endorsed by a Good outcome at our recent Ofsted inspection. Programmes are offered for Early Educators, teaching assistants and school business managers. 
  • Our schools and specialists actively participate in local, regional and national networks to ensure that they are horizon scanning, progressive and current in their practice. 
  • Ebor schools receive a Core Offer that ensures they are offering quality provision to the children who attend them. In addition to this a graduated approach is applied to schools in need of support with a range of strategic plans that ensure both accountability and successful development can be achieved; trustees hold executive leaders and headteachers to account through robust, challenging and supportive MAT structures. 
  • Our team of experienced and successful school headteachers assume responsibility for specific strategic areas across the trust which are detailed in this document, and our trust Safeguarding and SEND leaders are instrumental in ensuring that every child is safe and has their needs met so that they can achieve well in readiness for the next phase of their education. 

Since 2013 the trust has adopted a range of measures to ensure that its schools continue to improve. The original central School Improvement Team (ESIT) was funded through DfE growth funding and at one point numbered 8 FTE staff members who did not have a commitment to any specific schools, but rather were deployed to support schools dynamically. As the trust has grown and our schools have improved the school improvement strategy and team has evolved in order to meet the needs of the trust working towards a fully school led and self-improving system. Since 2018 ESIT team members have been assigned to residencies, often in a hybrid model balancing time between school improvement in our most vulnerable schools with deployment in a wider sense. In 2022/23 central school improvement staff numbered 4.6 FTE covering education, safeguarding/wellbeing and SEND support. This will evolve further in 2023/24 (see below).

Ebor Academy Trust Improvement and Support Strategy

Our ‘Improvement Support Strategy’ is made up of 3 key aims:

1: Building capacity and expertise in leaders and practitioners – through lead schools, subject specialists, trust boards, Teaching School Hub opportunities, networks and professional learning

2: Ensuring effective and accurate academy-level bespoke Improvement Plans – that are clear about improvement priorities and key tasks and activities to bring about improvement

3: Ensuring high quality, effective trust-level quality assurance processes – to provide information to trustees and valuable feedback to academies

…and is grounded in the following rationale;

  1. Is simple and clearly understood by all
  2. And yet complicated and detailed enough to do the job
  3. Has accountability and regulation at its heart
  4. Measures what we value and values what we measure
  5. Is evidence informed, research rich and values innovation
  6. Focuses tightly on culture, capacity, capability and commitment

Capacity and expertise in 2023/24 – ‘One School, Many Sites’

Director of Education (1)

The DoE maintains an overview of school improvement and strategy. He is responsible for outcomes, pedagogical approaches, strategic intervention and the professional development of senior leaders. The DoE reports directly to the CEO, working in partnership to ensure that all Ebor schools are on a journey of continual improvement within a culture of challenge and support. The Standards Committee holds the Director of Education to account for learning outcomes and progress and attainment data throughout the trust.

Headteachers in Lead Schools – Phonics, Early Years, Reading, Writing, Maths, Foundation Curriculum, Church Schools and Wellbeing /PD Lead (8)

Headteachers are the implementers of school improvement at Ebor. They inform and shape strategic decision-making and then turn strategic plans into a reality. Identified schools have responsibility for a variety of specific areas of school improvement and they work in close partnership with the DoE to ensure the system is effective.  Ebor heads work across schools and hubs to ensure that best-practice is shared, evaluated and adapted so that each school thrives within the trust.

Hub Leaders – coordinating moderation and sharing best-practice (8)

Hub leaders are identified as excellent practitioners by the DoE and headteachers who specialise in a specific area of provision (phonics and Early Years provision). They are cutting-edge in their outlook and at the forefront of developing practice across the trust, whilst maintaining a high level of understanding of their local schools. They ensure that assessment is accurately moderated and that quality provision leads to enhanced outcomes within their area of responsibility in all Ebor schools. Connectivity between hub leads is overseen by lead headteachers working within their leading schools.

Lead Schools – Phonics, Early Years, Reading, Writing, Maths and Foundation Curriculum, (6 schools)

Ebor Academy Trust recognises that a school-led system is the best way to bring about rapid and sustained improvements across the wider system and in particular our trust. Our lead schools must show expertise that can be translated into our wide range of contexts and be beacons of best-practice. Lead schools apply to the trustees once every 3 years to hold that status and then assume a key role in the implementation of wider trust school improvement strategy. Lead school status is assigned to schools in reading (KS1 and KS2),  phonics, maths, writing and the foundation curriculum.

Lead Teachers – supporting Lead School Headteachers (6)

Lead teachers support headteachers in lead schools to implement our improvement strategy. They offer support to all our schools within their area of expertise and showcase practice in their own setting. Their professional knowledge is vital to the development of our trust staff and their own schools must demonstrate high quality in their specialist areas of responsibility. 

Lead Practitioners – subject specialists identified in an area of strategic need across the trust (3)

Lead practitioners are school based but work across the trust in subjects that have been identified as priorities for development or require constant development as core subjects. In 2023/24 these subjects are identified as computing, science and modern foreign languages. Lead practitioners run subject networks and are deployed to support schools either by request or as a recommendation derived from quality assurance processes. The majority of their work is in showcasing their practice in their own settings.

Professional partners (50)

Professional partners are the engine room of Ebor school improvement. They are in-house accredited excellent classroom practitioners and subject leaders, identified by headteachers and validated by the Director of Education, who are deployed to schools to work with them to bring about rapid improvement. Deployment is overseen by the Director of Education and is triggered in a variety of ways; data concerns, QA information, leader’s requests and inspection preparation or outcomes. We train our professional partners rigorously so that the quality of their support is very high. Protocols are clear, as are aims for their deployment and criteria are measured to assure trustees of their effectiveness. Professional partners are fully accountable to the Director of Education. 

Church School Leadership (1 HT)

Our trust is a mixed MAT and we value and benefit from this status. To recognise the importance of our church schools we appoint an Ebor headteacher from a successful church school to have an overview of our group of church schools. They report back to trustees on the efficacy of our church schools, run a professional community group and help prepare schools for SIAMs inspections. Liaison with the diocese is a key part of their role. 

Disadvantaged Strategy (8 senior leaders)

We recognise that equity of opportunity is vital in our aim to all our learners to flourish and open doors to their best futures alongside a recognition of the long term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. To support this we have identified a group of 8 key senior leaders to oversee the strategy and operational practice that our schools employ. We target cohorts, schools and individual children by means of dedicated plans for each school that aim to fully identify barriers to attainment clearly. Each school develops, and is held accountable for, a bespoke plan that is drawn up in consultation with our focus group. Research is used to ensure that strategies are based on proven evidence and they are evaluated as part of cross MAT collaborations. 

SEND strategy

We believe that all our curricula must enable effective learning for all of our children. If the curriculum works for SEND children, it works for everyone. Our trust SEND lead has responsibility for the strategic overview of provision, sharing best-practice, maintaining an overview of the hub SEND leaders and advising all professionals in the trust. There is a strong link to our special provision school – Hob Moor Oaks Primary Academy – where leading practice is developed, shared and promoted across the trust and to the wider professional community through the Teaching School Hub.

Additional professional learning and networks

Half-termly headteacher networks provide the opportunity to ensure that our heads help shape school improvement strategy meaningfully. Research based practice is discussed and promoted with case studies used to exemplify successful improvement across the trust and in the wider sector. 

Headteachers receive independent coaching from a vastly experienced and successful former CEO to help support their wellbeing and shape their strategic thinking in a safe and confidential environment. 

Ensuring effective and sustainable school-level improvement

Quality assurance

Each school is responsible for its own improvement priorities; the strategic direction of the school is supported and monitored by extensive and effective QA systems that ensure that priorities are strategically correct, measurable and lead to effective improvement. Schools receive two visits per year to ensure progress against agreed priorities, identify support and evaluate the effectiveness of leaders’ actions. Additionally each school benefits from an ‘Ebor Review’ where a team of professionals including the Director of Education, Ebor headteacher peers, trust SEND and safeguarding leaders and external heads, DoE and CEO level professionals validate the accuracy of school self-evaluation and effectiveness of school improvement initiatives.

Trustees’ Standards Committee

Quality assurance is reported to the Board of Trustees via the Standards Committee. The committee meets on a termly basis and holds the school improvement team to account, celebrating successes and challenging any areas of underperformance. Trustees receive a full data set each cycle along with the Ebor Dashboard which RAG rates all our schools against data, review outcomes, QA waypoints, target setting, leadership competence and capacity and the quality of the curriculum.

Schools causing concern

If a school is identified as requiring support through external review, our quality assurance systems or data drop a 100 day plan is implemented. This is drawn up in consultation with the school by our director of education and identifies areas for improvement and clearly identified intended impact. It is reviewed after 25, 50 and 75 days and reported on when the plan concludes. Progress against the 100 day plans is reported back to The Standards Committee.

School Improvement in 2023/24

The Overview grid below provides further detail on our school-led improvement system and a reduction in centrally employed staff compared to previous academic years who focus on school improvement. The centrally deployed team will consist of 2.6 FTE (Director of Education, Trust Safeguarding and Wellbeing Lead and Trust SEND Lead).

We will implement a model of school improvement based on the success of the maths hub TRGs that has also been trialled in phonics this year, along with a number of specialist schools and subject leads. This will be aligned to a network of Professional Partners in a model similar to Specialists Leaders of Education who can be deployed to support teachers, middle leaders and heads.

Overview grid

Aspect Remit
DoE Overall SI strat
EY – Lead school – Hob Moor PA

Hub leads x 4 (inc lead teacher)

Overview of Hubs


Best practice


Phonics – Lead school – Filey Infants

Hub leads x 4 (inc lead teacher)

TRG overview

Best practice

Liaison with Eng Hub

Overview of hubs


KS1 – Amy Hunter – Braeburn Y2 Network


Hubs overview


KS2 – Ben Rogers – Park Grove Y6 network


Hubs overview


Church School leadership – Justin Reeve – Tockwith Overview of church schools – QA, support, diocesan link and SIAMS support
Wellbeing and professional development – Lead School – Tockwith Overview of PD and approaches to ensuring staff wellbeing is a priority in all our schools
Reading – Lead school – Park Grove Reading strategy and standards in KS1 and KS2
Writing – Lead school – Riston and Sigglesthorne Writing strategy and standards in KS1 and KS2
Maths – Lead school – RWPA Maths strategy and standards in KS1 and KS2 (linked to maths hub lead role)
Science – Lead practitioner – 

Subject leadership development; wider curriculum – ED


Best practice

Computing – Lead practitioner

Subject leadership development; wider curriculum – Jake Reeves-Kemp


Best practice

PE – Lead practitioner

Subject leadership development; wider curriculum – Steven Jeff


Best practice

MfL – Lead practitioner

Subject leadership development; wider curriculum – Nieves Sadhullah


Best practice

Music – specialist. 6 days per academic year – Karen Marshall Network

Best practice

Foundation curriculum – Lead school – All Saints Best practice

Overview of science/computing/MfL LPs

SEND/Inclusive practice lead school – Haxby Road/HMO Best practice
SEND trust lead – DM Strategic overview and opp support
Safeguarding trust lead – RMcG Strategic overview and opp support
Disadvantaged – heads group – Vicki Shaw Support across the trust in bespoke PP plans

Overview of PiXL roll out

Leadership PD

DHT group

Middle leadership


Additional plan
Open school sessions Additional plan
Professional partners network – ‘old’ model of SLEs Main agents of school improvement through exemplification and support of excellent practice