As we gear up for our next People Power Day 2024, we’re sharing reflections from one of the speakers joining the session on leadership strategies. Jeremy Meek, CEO of The Kite Academy Trust, shares his reflections on leadership and the work that he and his team are doing to ensure wellbeing and retention of staff. It goes to show that great leaders take great care to listen to their staff and create a shared vision of a quality, supportive work environment. We look forward to the discussion next week!


Jeremy is the recently appointed CEO of The Kite Academy Trust. Having had responsibility for twenty different schools as Headteacher, Executive Leader and now CEO, Jeremy has dedicated his career to continuously improving education and the life chances of all young people.  Jeremy holds a firm belief that an organisation’s people are its richest resource and greatest asset and is committed to ensuring a relentless focus on the support, development and wellbeing of every Kite colleague.

The Connection between Great Leadership and Retention 

Since taking up my first headship in 2012, I have had the privilege of leading twenty different primary schools (as headteacher, executive leader and now CEO of a ten school multi-academy trust) and the impact of great leadership on recruitment and excellent retention has never been more significant.

For any organisation, its employees are its greatest asset and richest resource and, most importantly, they are people and, as such, we strive to prioritise workload and wellbeing within all strategic planning. In this short piece for Edurio, I would like to share some of the strategies that we have adopted at The Kite Academy Trust to keep our people (along with our pupils) at the heart of our organisation.

Colleague Engagement in Organisational Purpose 

Colleague Engagement in Organisational Purpose 

One of the first steps we took at The Kite was to engage a selection of colleagues across the Trust – from every academy and business team, regardless of role or responsibility – to help co-create our Trust values in support of our mission and vision, via a Trust-wide INSET day.

We felt that if we truly wanted to empower our colleagues to live our values, to not only support our pupils’ personal development but to create the optimal organisational culture, engagement in the creation of our values was paramount.

Practical Workload and Wellbeing Strategies 

Practical Workload and Wellbeing Strategies 

As part of our Trust’s People & Culture strategy, we have introduced a number of very specific and practical initiatives designed to focus on the reduction of workload and continuous improvement of colleague wellbeing. 

For example, through our Trust-wide networks and systems which facilitate collaboration in curriculum planning, every teaching colleague - regardless of the size or capacity of their home academy - benefits from shared PPA time with all other year group colleagues from across the Trust. Alongside the implementation of a Trust-wide curriculum, these trust wide PPA networks ensure that workload for teachers is shared across our entire team.

We have also sought to demonstrate the esteem we hold for our colleagues through the introduction of a benefits programme that offers both free rewards and discounted products and services. The savings our colleagues have made to date across the Trust have already been greater than the cost of the platform, which demonstrates the excellent value for money. As a fundamental entitlement of the working day, we have also introduced free hot drinks for all colleagues (a simple benefit to introduce and one that colleagues have reported makes a small, but real difference to their working day). 

Communication and Colleague Voice 

Communication and Colleague Voice

At The Kite, we value open and honest feedback, however challenging it can sometimes be to hear. As a key part of our commitment to our people, protecting time in my diary, as CEO, to meet weekly with colleagues is a priority.

It is both fascinating and informative to listen to colleagues from all areas and every level of our organisation about what they feel our Trust does well and what could be improved, in addition to the barriers to excellence  that individuals face in their roles.

These regular conversations across the Trust support the feedback we collect from a recently introduced rolling programme of Trust-wide surveys, the first of which was primarily focused on wellbeing and workload. The information gathered from our people across the Trust is vital to our ‘you said, we did’ feedback loop and to the development of our Trust’s future strategy. 

We endeavour to make effective Trust-wide communication a priority and, through the introduction of our termly ‘Town Hall’ meetings, we have provided a forum where every Kite colleague can regularly come together virtually to hear key Trust priorities, receive updates on opportunities across the Trust, and most importantly, collectively celebrate our successes. 

Although it is still early days, we have seen a reduction in colleague turnover to this point in the year of 50%, and a significant increase in applications for new posts we have created across the Trust.

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For more insights about leadership strategies and best-practice stories from top education leadership teams, download the Edurio Leadership Guide

Jeremy Meek, CEO of The Kite Academy Trust, will be joined by John Murphy, Education Leadership Mentor, in the Leadership Strategies in School Trusts session as a part of our People Power Day 2024.