Join Us

We are delighted that you are considering joining The Dean Trust. We hope this information will provide you with the guidance that you need to decide whether your school would like to start the conversation about applying to join our Trust.

The Process


Look for a Trust whose mission, values and vision align with your own. Arrange to visit potential Trusts and meet key people – see their schools in action.

Consider this as a two- way process – not just the benefits of joining a Trust but also what your school can bring to the Trust.

Take your research and a shortlist to your governing board for a decision which will allow
you to begin the process.

Expression of interest

In order to convert you will need DfE approval.

Once you and your governing board have identified a preferred Trust, you will need to complete an online ‘DfE Expression of Interest’ for consideration by the DfE Regional Director. The Dean Trust can support you with this part of the process.

Due diligence

You and the Trust must undertake a due diligence process to enable both parties to understand each other’s operations, in particular regarding HR, finance, ownership of land and buildings and existing leases/contracts.

This will help to identify strengths and weaknesses and highlight areas where investment or support may be needed.


You will be required to consult with all key stakeholders in your school community to gather all views and concerns. The Dean Trust will support you through this stage.

Our central HR team will lead on the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) consultation process with staff and unions. This is the legal process that transfers employees and all other employee liabilities to the Trust and ensures that all employee terms and conditions of employment remain the same.


The Dean Trust will support you through this stage by acting as a liaison with solicitors and DfE Project Leads to arrange for the transfer of land, buildings and other assets.

Arrangements will also be made to enter into a DfE Funding Agreement.

Pension commitments will need to be established and arrangements made to transfer the responsibility to the Trust.


On completion of due diligence and the legal phases and once the views of the school community have been considered, our Trust Board will meet to consider the due diligence findings and consider the proposal to bring your school into our Trust. A final vote will be taken and approval granted if they agree with the proposal. Your governing body will also need to complete a final vote to proceed. All resolutions will need to be formally recorded as part of the process.

The final decision will then be communicated to the DfE.

A Trust is a group of schools working in deep and purposeful collaboration as one entity, under a single governance structure, to improve and maintain high educational standards across the trust.

Leora Cruddas, CBE

Confederation of School Trusts

Case Studies

Anita Edwards

Executive Headteacher
Partington Learning Partnership

I’ve been a headteacher for 15 years. I started as a headteacher of a single-form entry, local authority school in Lancashire before moving to a two-form entry school in Trafford. Our school then converted to an academy and joined The Dean Trust.

I became Executive Headteacher in 2017 of Forest Gate Academy and Partington Central Academy

I find that working within the Trust gives you access to strong levels of support from different departments. An example of this would be our finance department led by our CFO. The expertise within this department enables us to access funding that may prove difficult or too time-consuming otherwise. We have particularly benefitted from additional capital funding in recent years. Other such departments include HR, IT and Estates.
Key strengths of working within the Trust also include the opportunities for professional development, collaboration with other schools and staff, and career progression

My main concern was losing autonomy and decisions being made without the children at the heart of it. Within the Trust, the headteachers continue to run their schools and there are regular forums for discussions. This means that the views and opinions of headteachers are taken into consideration as part of the decision-making process and policy-making. Consistency is obviously a key component across the Trust and to support this we have a range of Trust Improvement Partner networks for staff to be part of curriculum development and school improvement. These networks have proved invaluable and are at the heart of curriculum development.

I knew about the Trust because our pupils attended the local Trust secondary school (Broadoak) when they left us. We already had links for Year 6-7 transition and as a small community we had taken part in local events and activities the secondary school hosted for our pupils.

Yes, through the due diligence process I met with different members of the Executive Team to keep abreast of progress and was involved in meetings
about ‘next steps’ in the process. Information was shared openly. It was an open and transparent process throughout with lots of dialogue. The
Academy Director supported the transition within school with governors, senior leaders, parents, pupils and staff.

There were additional benefits that I hadn’t anticipated. The Executive Team were very supportive and active in developing relationships with parents and children in the school. This was particularly the case in the early stages of the transition when families had lots of questions around the changes and advantages of being part of the Trust.

The collaborative work that takes place between the Trust schools is exceptional and has been a particular highlight. There are lots of opportunities for staff and great networking takes place. Staff have the opportunity to attend joint training sessions as well as be part of networks in their year group and subject specialisms.

Focus on the future – where would you like your school to be in five years.
• Do not be afraid to ask questions – especially the difficult ones
• Talk to other schools that have joined the Trust. I would recommend viewing some schools within the Trust to see the culture and ethos first hand. I would also recommend talking to the headteachers, staff and children during the visits.
• Open and honest conversations with the Executive Team are always essential and a chance to consider how well your vision aligns with the Trust.

One of our most significant successes in recent months has been the collaboration between the primary and secondary schools. Secondary subject leaders have spent time in primary schools to look at the curriculum, talk to children, look at books and see lessons in action. This exercise has been really useful to develop partnerships across phases and for our secondary colleagues to see the standards of achievement in the primary settings. It’s been particularly significant for Year 6-7 transition. In 2022, we had our first well-being INSET day and we had such positive feedback that this is now an annual event. This builds on the success of our joint primary INSET day which is an annual event attended by staff from all 4 primary schools.

Another highlight is the levels of engagement of our pupils in the school enrichment programme and the variety of clubs on offer. Almost all of our children attend a club and access enhancements to the curriculum through trips and visitors to school. A full and varied enrichment programme is a key priority for the Trust and this is really beneficial to our children. Staff offer an extensive range of clubs, supplemented by bought-in agencies and community groups. This has been received really well by our families and the clubs are thriving.

George Devlin

Chair of Governors
Partington Learning Partnership

Six years.

Technically retired although I am active in a range of charities and community groups.

When I retired I decided I wanted to give something back to the community, I was attracted to Forest Gate which at that time was a local authority Community School.

Although we were already part of the West Trafford Learning Partnership and could see the value of collective and collaborative working it was a big step to become an Academy as part of the Trust.

The main concerns were linked to taking a step into the unknown, what would it mean in practice, where would responsibilities lie, would the school still retain its independence. I was also concerned that the concept and development of academies was being driven by central government.

As part of the West Trafford Learning Partnership, we knew the team that we would be joining. The main thing we knew was that they had a commitment to improving educational outcomes through a very inclusive and community-based approach. This gave us the confidence we needed to move forward.

The support provided by the Trust was excellent, we went though all areas of the conversion process, talked about the implications, and agreed the way forward. It was a very inclusive process; they were always available to answer any questions and take the views of everyone into account.

I realised that academisation whilst being driven by central government created the scope for responsibility and control for improving educational outcomes to be delegated to the right people.

• Clarity of the vision for improving educational outcomes.
• Clarity over roles and responsibilities
• Economies of scale and the effective use of resources.
• Collaboration and co-production across all schools.

• Focus on the future – where would you like your school to be in five years’ time.
• Do not be afraid to ask questions – especially the difficult ones.
• Talk to other schools that have joined the Trust.

• The behaviour and conduct of our pupils inside and outside the schools, visitors and observers regularly comment on how we should be proud of the way our pupils conduct themselves.
• Our continued approach and development of inclusive leadership and teamwork, everyone in our schools knows the value of the contribution they make to improved educational outcomes.
• Our continued focus on improved educational outcomes through our knowledge of the needs and potential of every pupil in our schools, our effective use of systems, processes and management information.

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