How a 14-school trust set its top-slicing strategy: case study

Learn how one trust set its top-slicing strategy with a focus on investment. Get tips on designing the principles of your service, costing your investment plans and how to make this trust's approach work for you.

Last reviewed on 25 March 2022
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 44133
  1. School contributions to the central budget, and what they get for the money
  2. How the trust designs and costs its central offer
  3. Why it's important to focus on investment, as well as cost
  4. Think carefully about how you communicate, to get buy-in
  5. Make the STEP approach work for you

Chief finance and operations officer Ben March spoke to us about STEP Academy Trust's approach to 'top-slicing' academy budgets to fund central services. STEP Academy Trust is a MAT of 20 primary schools in south London and East Sussex (it had 14 schools when we spoke to Ben).

School contributions to the central budget, and what they get for the money

STEP's academies currently contribute 7% of their general annual grant (GAG) to fund central trust functions and services.

The trust has reduced its rate from 8% as it has expanded, because economies of scale have saved money and common processes have saved staff time.

The contribution covers financial and operational services, including:

  • The CEO and CFO
  • Salaries for the heads of ICT, premises and catering
  • Compliance

It also covers an increasing amount of the teaching and learning support that the trust provides.

First, the

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