A Coventry academy’s rapid improvement across all departments, since being established in 2015 has been highlighted – with hopes that the lessons it has learnt will support other schools converting to academy status.
The Romero Catholic Academy, made up of seven primary schools and one secondary school based across Coventry, has announced its latest staff survey results which demonstrate just how far it has come in four years.
The Romero Catholic Academy launched its survey in 2016 and has since held them at the end of 2018 and 2020, asking employees about their understanding of the Academies strategy, how satisfied they are with management, staff and pay benefits, their role, teamwork, change, decision making, culture and values.
Despite the latest survey being held during the Covid-19 pandemic, it highlighted improvements across the board, including some significant positive changes.
This includes staff believing that their work is valued by their line manager, with almost 92 per cent of employees agreeing or strongly agreeing with this compared with 83 per cent in 2016, and that their wellbeing is considered in the workplace, with almost 83 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing compared with 68 per cent in 2016.
Almost 90 per cent of staff surveyed also said they would recommend the Academy as a good place to work compared with 69 per cent in 2016.
Patrick Taggart, Director of Operations at the Academy, said: “Uniting eight separate schools to form a Multi-Academy Company comes with its challenges, but one thing we wanted to focus on from the start was staff satisfaction to help ensure we were an employer of choice.
“One thing we learnt early on was that the Academy’s vision, mission and aims were key in joining the schools together, so we ensured these were not just on posters and in marketing, but spoken about in performance management, covered at key events such as our annual staff conference and included in our strategic plan.
“Going from just 63 per cent of staff agreeing or strongly agreeing that they understand the Academy’s strategy in 2016 to almost 90 per cent at the end of 2020 is an achievement we should be proud of.
“Our management styles have also developed, and whereas everyone used to have their own individual styles, school leaders are now shaped by our vision, mission and aims.
“As part of this we have developed our performance management processes, adopting a culture of listening, praising and appreciating employees and giving staff the opportunity to provide feedback and be involved in decisions that will affect their job roles.
“Although teamwork was highlighted as a strength when we set up the Academy, this was when the schools still thought of themselves as separate entities, so the fact we have managed to improve these results further is testament to the joined-up approach we promote.
“Job satisfaction has also improved, and a key thing that has been a driving force behind this is how we have improved the working environment at each school, thanks to how we have handled our finances since becoming an Academy.
“We have invested hugely in technology with laptops now being replaced every three years, the installation of Promethean whiteboards in every classroom and each school receiving new LED lighting – all made possible by making savings through rationalising the supplier base and bringing services such as catering and IT in-house.
“A key part of setting up the Academy was gaining the trust of our staff, and it’s clear from our results that we have made huge progress, particularly in the last two years when we have seen some dramatic increases in employee satisfaction.
“This improved mindset within our 500 staff means we are able to deliver a better provision for our children, providing them with better life chances, which is what we strive for.”
Patrick added: “Our next steps will be improving communication with employees across all levels even further by implementing a new staff intranet site, as well as encouraging more staff innovation.
“But we want to also use these results to support other schools making that transition to Academy status or those who have already begun the process, sharing our knowledge of what we have learnt to support the education sector.”
Schools and academies looking for further advice can contact Patrick Taggart on firstname.lastname@example.org