The Confederation of School Trusts and BlueSky Education have today launched a dedicated 360° review tool for school trust chief executives and similar executive leader roles that combines CST’s thought-leadership on leadership responsibilities with BlueSky’s powerful Opal Review platform.

The tool is aimed at helping existing trust leaders better guide their organisations and help bring on the next generation of aspiring chief executives.

The partnership extends an existing relationship to support trusts to scale strategic improvement and people strategy and will be available through CST’s consultancy offer as well as directly from BlueSky.

The review tool is based on CST’s sector-leading report The Core Responsibilities of a School Trust Chief Executive Officer. Released in November 2021, the report helps define the relatively new role of a School Trust chief executive, informed by evidence from serving chief executives, existing frameworks, and emerging best practice.

The report defines six core responsibilities: strategic leadership (including trust values, culture, and strategy); quality of education (including safety and safeguarding); finance, sustainability, and compliance; people strategy; governance and accountability; and system leadership and civic responsibility.

BlueSky’s Opal Review platform – designed to support a forward-focused performance review strategy – can now offer a new, highly-tuned competency model, specific to a trust chief executive role and closely linked to those six core responsibilities. CST’s consultants can work with trusts to tailor this model to their individual circumstances, enabling them to undertake 360° peer review of their executive leader, encouraging ongoing development and further codifying the role and responsibilities of the role.

Confederation of School Trusts chief executive Leora Cruddas CBE said: “Good leadership directly benefits children in our schools, so as the schools trust sector matures it is imperative the role of the chief executive is clearly defined and understood.

“Until recently much of the support in this area has been generic leadership training or focused on traditional headteacher roles, which offer only limited value to those in the very specific role of a school trust chief executive.

“Our work with the sector on identifying the core responsibilities was the beginning of a journey to create a whole new competency model for chief executives. By partnering with BlueSky, we have been able to embed those principles in their Opal Review platform and this can now be used by Trusts, supported by our experienced consultants, to apply the model to their own circumstances, capture feedback from their colleagues, and inform the wider performance review process.”

BlueSky chief executive and founder Denise Inwood said: “An effective executive performance review is key to supporting Trust executives to achieve their core purpose, the leadership of a successful trust. Working with them to craft objectives that align with trust priorities, and for which there is a shared understanding of success, is central to conversations about accountability, not only for the leader but for the broader executive team.

“The 360° performance review can help to inform the conversation and craft these objectives. It provides a rounded and balanced view of the behaviours and very specific competencies needed in a trust chief executive – taking in the views of a range of key personnel. The outcomes can help to identify immediate needs and actions, leading into a forward-focused conversation that provides an excellent starting point for ongoing coaching and professional development.”

CST’s consultancy services are available to all schools and trusts in England and include governance reviews, training, leadership consultancy and external advisors to the executive performance review process. School leaders can contact CST to request a free initial consultation.

Want to find out more about Opal Review? 
Take a look at the Opal Review solution and why talk to our team to learn more.

Tamsin Denley

Author: Tamsin Denley,
Head of Marketing and Partnerships

Share this article