A Thought Piece by Christopher Davis 20 March 2018

I believe that academy culture and more precisely core values are the foundation and driving force behind any successful academy or organisation. I am personally very values-driven and as I have progressed through my career within education, I have ensured that I remain rooted to my values and have incorporated these into my leadership style.

I am firmly of the understanding that E-ACT has been transformed into a values-driven organisation, with its core values of think big, do the right thing and show team spirit.

Now embedded right across our multi-academy trust, whether in one of our 25 academies, a regional office or at ELT level, I feel these three simple core values provide the platform for all decision making. Over the last twelve months, I have witnessed rapid alignment to the trust’s values by a huge number of our academies, and daily I am witnessing some truly magnificent examples of each one:

Thinking big

Whole trust engagement with the E-ACT passport  which will literally change lives and increase the life chances of all students.

Doing the right thing

Incredible financial and staffing resource-commitment for Mental Health First Aid training, supporting staff and students across the country.

Showing team spirit

National maths reviews; supporting each other through a peer review approach.

Demonstrating our core values

When facilitating the recent E-ACT North Regional Inset Day, I used Tesco as an analogy. Tesco has around 6,000 stores, facilitates in excess of 79 million shopping trips per week and employs around 490,000 employees. The question I asked the region was: could you really tell (other than by the accents) if you were in a Tesco store in Devon, for example, or a Tesco store in Glasgow?

The answer? No, because they all demonstrate the company’s core values, selling specific products to fit their local market. This is similar to education in general, as well as our fantastic MAT. We are all rooted to the E-ACT core values but all academies and regions are different. We have autonomy and we display this through our unique curriculums that fit the needs of our students.


When I was appointed as headteacher of The Oldham Academy North, one of the very first tasks I undertook was re-aligning the academy’s core values with those of E-ACT. In order to get everyone on board and to ensure that we would hold each other to account we formulated the values together, consulting all students, staff and very crucially our parents, carers and wider community.

TOAN’s values are:

Trust: we respect ourselves and others and always act with good intentions, having strong morals and we are always honest and fair.

Endurance: we are hardworking and determined to never give up and are committed to motivating and challenging each other.

Autonomy: we have the confidence to use our initiative and take ownership of our own futures, without relying on others to do it for us.

Mastery: we have high aspirations and the urge to get better, to become the best that we can be.

Together we are: TEAM TOAN

As an ex-sportsman, (I still try every now and then but my legs don’t work at the same speed as my brain!) I am a true believer that when we work alone, things can be tough and challenging but when we work together, things become much more achievable. It is this approach that the staff, students and parents at our academy have taken and as a TEAM we are relentless in achieving our mission.

Through being a strong TEAM, made up of students, staff and all members of our community, we strive for academic excellence in all that we do. TEAM TOAN has extremely high expectations and demands only the very best performance from everyone, allowing our students to leave us ready to contribute to the challenging and competitive world around us.

Core values mean nothing if they are merely displayed on walls – but have an incredible impact when people become aligned and demonstrate these at all times through behaviours, communication and all of our actions.

Chris Davis is headteacher of The Oldham Academy North whose students have recently achieved record Progress 8 scores.