Alumnis Multi Academy Trust proposal – summary of consultation responses – Click here to download the full document Consultation Response Document Stakeholders
The consultation programme on the Alumnis MAT proposal concluded on Friday 23 February 2018. Separate meetings were held for staff and parents of all schools involved. The meetings were led by the Head Teacher of each school and senior leaders from all schools attended. There was also a public meeting. Notes were taken at all the meetings. There was also an email address to which comments could be sent. There was a separate meeting for staff and their union representatives on contractual matters. These are covered in a separate note.
Speakers at the meetings raised a number of issues which were addressed by the leadership team, and very similar questions were brought up in the written submissions. The following is a summary of the main themes and the responses provided.
Implications for the distinctiveness of the two types of school of having a MAT with both Church and community schools
One of the founding principles of the MAT is that each school should retain its own distinctiveness within its local community and its character as a church or community school. Each school will have an Ethos Committee to ensure this is maintained but working within a framework of common principles. This has worked well within the South West Schools Federation which already has both community and church schools. The experience of the SWSF schools, and those within the wider North Devon Teaching School Alliance is that working together has already brought different strengths and perspectives that all the schools find valuable.
Implications of having a geographically dispersed group of schools
Joint working between schools is essential to improving standards, and is a challenge for schools in rural communities however this is organised. The experience of the SWSF schools, and the teaching school alliance, over the last five years has been that the benefits of working together strongly outweigh any problems caused by distance. However, in thinking about the MAT’s future growth, we will look at the feasibility of developing more local geographical clusters, and of using technology-driven collaboration to facilitate joint working .
Implications for children with special needs
As part of a MAT, each school will have access to a greater diversity of skills and resources than any one school could provide alone. This will make us better able to support the learning of all pupils, including those with special needs.
Reasons for favouring a MAT over alternative structures such as a federation
A MAT structure provides greater opportunities for the way in which school to school support is delivered. For example it would not be possible for the current arrangements for supporting Clinton to continue under a federation, because Clinton is required to become an academy with an external sponsor. A MAT can become a sponsor whereas a federation could not.
Resource implications of the MAT for individual schools
Schools in a MAT are funded according to the same formula as other maintained schools, with a small addition to pay for services which would otherwise be covered paid for by the local authority. However there are opportunities available to MATs to bid for available funding that are not available to local authority schools. There should also be opportunities in a MAT to make efficiency savings by providing some facilities and services in common. The Board of the MAT will be responsible for deciding the allocation of funding to individual schools. The directors have the responsibility to ensure that each school is treated fairly on the basis of their individual school funding allocation.
Ownership of land and buildings
The land and buildings of the Church schools will continue to be owned by the existing trustees. The MAT will have no power to dispose of any such property without the agreement of the trustees.
Leadership and governance of individual schools
It is expected that a new headteacher will be appointed to St Helen’s (as the current head will become Chief Executive of the MAT) and a new joint head of school appointed to Clinton and Dolton. The three SWSF schools are expected to retain their existing head teachers.
The MAT is keen to ensure that each community is strongly represented in the governance of its local school. It is therefore intended that larger schools will have their own Local Governing Board and smaller schools will have a joint LGB. The timescale for implementing these arrangements will depend on local recruitment and training needs.
Viability of individual schools
One of the founding principles of the MAT is that schools are central to their local communities, and a key objective is ensuring local schools are sustainable. This means they need to work within a formal collaborative structure which the MAT provides. For very small schools especially, the best guarantee of their viability is the quality of education they provide, so that local parents choose to send their children there. With its focus in improving the quality of teaching and learning across all the schools the MAT is confident about the future of all its schools.
Future growth of the MAT
One of the important roles for a new MAT is to provide school to school support not only within its initial grouping but more widely across its community. In some cases this will involve new schools joining the MAT. Which schools join, and when, is ultimately a matter for the directors. For example, they will want to consider the balance between the needs of schools requiring more support with the need to grow capability by including schools which are already doing well and the desirability of creating closer geographic clusters to make it easier for schools to work together. The MAT currently has an open mind for the future participation of secondary schools, special schools and free schools.
Letter regarding the consultation process:
Notification of Consultation:
After several months of discussions, visits and explorations of potential partnerships we are pleased to announce that Combe Martin Primary School, as part of the South West Schools’ Federation, St Helen’s Church of England (VA) Primary School and The Tarka Federation are proposing to form a Multi Academy Trust this academic year. The letters below give information about how to participate in the consultation process and voice your views. You will find answers to frequently asked questions at the bottom of this page.
Thank you and we look forward to meeting you at the consultation meeting.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an Academy?
An Academy is a state school that is run by an Academy Trust. The Academy Trust enters into an agreement with the Secretary of State for Education that sets out its responsibilities and accountabilities for the effective running of the Academy. The Academy is funded directly by the Government not through the Local Authority. The Trust is given charitable exemption, which means it must operate much like a charity.
2. What is a Multi-Academy Trust?
A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is when 2 or more Academies come together in partnership. Our governing body believes that the best option is to form a local Multi Academy Trust from the six schools. Each school will keep its own name. Each school will need to be an Academy. In the future, it will be possible for other Academies to join the Trust.
3. What process have the governors gone through in deciding to begin this process and will we definitely form a MAT?
Each school’s board of governors voted individually to confirm we would proceed with consultation on the formation of our MAT. At the end of the consultation period, each school’s board of governors will analyse the consultation responses and then have a final vote on whether to convert to MAT status. After all three schools have voted we will update you with the result.
4. How would converting to an Academy benefit ourSchool?
As detailed above, these changes are about enhancing teaching and learning for all children. They would allow us to maintain control of our schools for our community, share skills and operate more effectively.
5. Who will be responsible for running ourschool?
The newly formed Trust will have a Board of Trustees including individuals from each local governing body. The Trust Board will delegate powers to the governing body which will be a similar role that they currently have. A Leadership structure is yet to be finalised.
6. What is involved in becoming an Academy?
The school will complete a consultation with parents, pupils, staff and the wider community which the governors will take into account in reaching its decision. The governing body has voted for this proposal in principle and The Secretary of State for Education will decide (or not) to approve our application if governors decide to proceed. Each school is given £25,000 to convert although the vast majority of this will be used in the conversion process including legal fees etc.
7. Would the school have to change its name, logo oruniform?
No, the governors have no plans to change the name, logo, uniform or individual identity of each school.
8. How will being a Multi Academy Trust affect staff?
After conversion all staff at all the schools will be employed by the Trust. Staff are legally protected to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions, including pensions. Their continuity of service is protected, and all staff will be consulted in accordance with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations.
9. How are the children affected?
In many ways the children will not notice any immediate difference; they will be in the same uniform, in the same classrooms with the same teaching staff. We will continue to strive for an outstanding education for all our children. However, in time the children may notice changes and improvements in the way that they learn, resulting from the greater training opportunities given to teaching staff to innovate and improve the pupils’ learning.
10. Will we get more money as an Academy?
Academies receive the same amount of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the Local Authority as a maintained school. All funding comes direct from Government to the Multi Academy Trust which controls the overall budget. Each school does not necessarily have more money, but as a group the schools are better able to control their part of the budget.
11. What are the risks of becoming an Academy?
The change to Academy takes a school out of Local Authority control, but does not exclude the school from Local Authority support. For example, Academies can continue to receive finance, HR, behavioural support and other services from the Local Authority and where these represent ‘best value’ the MAT would use these services. Where the MAT feels that others can provide better services or better value the change to Academy increases the freedom to make these changes. There are risks associated with not changing to Academy status. At some stage in the future, any school might be influenced to become part of a larger Academy Chain. We believe that the ability to create a local MAT, under local direction, offers the best opportunity to sustain vibrant, successful local schools
12. How will admissions to the school be affected?
The school will become its own admissions authority but will be required to adopt clear and fair admission arrangements in line with the admissions law and the School Admissions Code. The Local Authority will continue to have responsibility for making sure there are sufficient places locally and will coordinate the admissions process for all schools. This means parents will still only have to complete one application per child. Applications will still be via the coordinated process.
13. Does becoming an Academy change the relationship with other schools and the community?
No, Academies must ensure that they continue to be at the heart of their community, collaborating and sharing facilities and expertise with other schools and the wider community.
14. Will our responsibilities in relation to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and exclusions change?
No, responsibilities as an Academy in relation to SEND and exclusions will be just the same as they are now.
15. Can a child with an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) nominate an Academy as his or her school of choice?
Yes, schools converting to Academy status can retain the admissions criteria they currently use. These arrangements and related processes must at all times comply with the School Admissions Code.