Refocusing strategy– where do you want to make an impact?

Schools, or more accurately the people who work in them, have done an incredible job in providing stability and continuity for pupils at a time of great uncertainty.  The pandemic has highlighted how the school is much more than a place of learning, it is at the heart of the community.   

While a school’s or MAT’s guiding principles and purpose may remain the same, the strategy needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs and opportunities around us.  Clear strategic direction – aligned to vision, mission and values – is essential to identifying the priorities that will direct our future actions.   

As we look ahead we ask ourselves questions such as:  

  • What are the greatest needs of our pupils, their families and community?   
  • What barriers need to be overcome?  
  • Where do we want to have even greater impact? 

We also consider the educational environment and the influence of government policy.  

  • What opportunities and risks does this present? 
  • What’s our context and where are we on our journey?  

For strategy to be effective, it needs the buy-in of others.  Bringing people together to discuss the strategy enables different perspectives to be heard and ideas to be shared. It is an opportunity to celebrate the progress already made and collectively agree the way forward. 

This year SSAT have been working with The Futures Trust, a MAT of four secondary schools and four primary schools, on strategic planning for the next five-year cycle.  

Peter Thomas (CEO, The Futures Trust) shares the why, process and benefits below:  


As a trust our approach has always been collaborative and we knew through years of working with SSAT just how much they shared this belief. Over the last six months they have been working with us to help shape and develop our thinking about our next cycle of development as we consider our plans for the next five years. They have really helped us think strategically and innovatively as well as help develop a shared vision amongst all components within The Futures Trust including trustees, governors and senior leaders.  


SSAT has held a focus group workshop that helped tease out colleagues’ big ideas as well as attend some of our Futures planning meetings before facilitating separate away days for our headteachers and trustees. Activities have included self-review and reflection activities as well as examples of great practice across the educational sector in areas that we have been looking to develop. 


The SSAT approach has provided us with the space and time to think big, to reflect on what we are about, how we live up to our values and why we want to take things forward. SSAT has developed our collaborative thinking and brought colleagues closer together. They have energised us, deepened our commitment to the shared vision of Building Brighter Futures and galvanised us into thinking differently and taking advantage and seeking the deeper benefits of working together as a trust. We are on an exciting journey and one which we will continue with SSAT. 

Are you reviewing your strategic goals? 

Whether you are reviewing your aims for the new academic year or looking longer-term, we all need to make time to consider the purpose and mission (the ‘WHY’) of our schools in a changing world.  SSAT can help you and your teams to identify and shape priorities by facilitating opportunities for reflection and goal setting. 

For more information contact us at

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