Educational establishments face a host of risks every day, whether it is to do with health and safety, cyber-security or HR. This is especially true for large educational trusts like the Boudica Schools Trust. The group of 11 schools includes two secondaries, two special schools, and seven primaries, so ensuring all areas of risk and governance are compliant is a huge undertaking.
When the academy trust guidance changed to highlight the need for specific risk management, the trust knew it needed a team of experts to help them – and they chose Juniper Education’s Catalyst Risk team.
Narrow coverage to a comprehensive team of experts
Previously the trust used several local auditing and finance companies to check their compliance, but it all felt too scattered. They wanted one team to cover all areas of compliance, so they started the process by putting together a wish list to find a provider that could offer a comprehensive package.
“We needed an organisation that wouldn’t be intimidated by the variety of our schools and could be our sole scrutiny provider,” explains Phil Beecher, chief operating officer at the Boudica Schools Trust.
The trust had already been successfully using Juniper Education’s pupil tracking solutions, so they felt confident they were choosing a team that really understood schools.
“Juniper Education’s Catalyst Risk service covers all the assets of the organisation, the education elements plus estates, finance, governance, HR, IT, procurement, the lot.
“We get on well with their team, and we really love their approach to delivery. They offer reporting that explains all their recommendations in a lot of detail, without all the jargon. Plus, we know if we’re ever unsure, they’re at the end of the phone to give us that peace of mind.”
The Boudica Schools Trust quickly felt they were in safe hands due to the expertise of Juniper Education’s team.
“They didn’t just manage all areas of risk. They did it comfortably, with subject specialists in every area. We always knew that we were speaking to an expert and that they were always connected within the single Catalyst team.”
Advice through to excellence
Juniper Education quickly gave the Boudica Schools Trust advice on their practices where it was needed, explains Phil.
“They spotted where we had controls in place that weren’t operating effectively and adapted them. For example, in our HR policies, they were able to spot where we could modernise our practices and refine them to better support our staff.”
Juniper Education went on to do more than just ensuring the trust’s policies were compliant. They also helped the trust compare how robust their processes were with other schools of similar sizes.
“They gave us an industry awareness of what ‘good’ looks like and the ability to compare ourselves to other schools and trusts. The advice was tailored too. It was not a one-size-fits-all approach.”
“For example, we’re a pretty tech-savvy trust, and we’re already confident with our controls in the IT area. So instead of advising too deeply on cyber-security, they enabled us to compare what we were doing in this area to our peers and reflect on what we were doing well and where adjustments could be made – it helped us benchmark where we are.”
Adaptability and growth
The Boudica Schools Trust was also impressed by how open, and responsive Juniper Education were to feedback.
“We’ve given them feedback, and they’ve used that knowledge to improve their work with other clients. You can tell they’re truly responsive to the needs of schools, and they share our values. That’s what sets them apart.”
This adaptability has been vital in the face of the ongoing pandemic as Juniper Education have shown they can adapt quickly to sudden changes.
“As restrictions have tightened and eased, we’ve not been able to have visitors on site. Juniper Education have instead delivered all our reviews fully remotely, and we haven’t had a single issue.”
Looking to the future
As the 2021/22 academic year continues, the trust is looking forward to continuing its relationship with Juniper Education and potentially taking on more of their services.
“We’re pleased with the outcomes of the reviews, and we want more of it. A recent review picked up on our budgeting system, so we’ll be seeing if there’s a software solution that Juniper Education’s development team can offer us.”
It’s clear that the Boudica Schools Trust has found peace of mind with Juniper Education’s Catalyst Risk service.
How Juniper Education Risk and Governance helps the Boudica Schools Trust
- Subject specialists to cover all common areas of risk and governance
- Easily accessible team for extra support where needed
- Ability to benchmark risk against other schools and trusts
- Tailored support to the needs of each client
We deliver a blend of expertise and software that leaves no stone unturned in the quest for effective, practical risk management and compliance. From keeping pupils safe and well to supporting effective operations by governors, we’re here to put you in control of your risk – and keep you there.