Frequently Asked Questions regarding considerations on becoming a Multi Academy Trust.
Forming a Multi-Academy Trust – Potential Questions and Answers
What is an Academy?
Academies are publicly funded schools, independent of the local authority, held accountable through a funding agreement with the Department for Education (DfE).
What is a Multi-Academy Trust?
A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is when two or more Academies (schools) work together in a legally binding partnership.
We are planning to form a new MAT in partnership with 3 other schools, all with a similar vision and ethos. Each school will keep its own name and its own individual identity.
Who will be responsible for running our school?
The MAT will have an overarching Board of Trustees and a Local Governing Board for each school.
The Trustees will have overall responsibility for the finance and standards of the MAT. The Head Teacher will continue to manage the school as they do now, supported by the Local Governing Board, similar to the way in which the school currently operates. The Trust will only intervene if the school is not performing as it should in terms of pupil outcomes and finances.
What is the process of forming a Multi Academy Trust?
The Governing Board will have to apply to the Regional Schools Commissioner for permission to start the formal process of forming a MAT. If successful, each school will complete a period of formal consultation with parents, pupils, staff and the wider community before converting to academy status.
What are the benefits?
To work collaboratively within a family of schools to improve teaching and learning, with the purpose of ensuring the very best outcomes for our pupils.
This will be achieved by:
- Sharing and developing good practice to improve opportunities for our children.
- Increasing staff development opportunities to further improve the quality of education.
- Using academy freedoms to manage our school funding more efficiently.
Why this group of schools?
Our school has worked for many years in partnership with the other local schools. This has provided many opportunities for our children and enabled shared working and professional development for our staff, to improve the quality of education and support across all the schools.
The Government are now encouraging all schools to work as part of a ‘strong family of schools’, within more formal arrangements, such as multi-academy trusts. We believe forming a new Trust with like-minded schools that we are currently working with is the most effective way of doing this, whilst ensuring we preserve the unique qualities of our school. Other schools may want to join the Trust once it is established.
What will the impact be for pupils?
There will be no day-to-day change for pupils. Improvements in teaching and learning practice will improve opportunities for the children as the MAT becomes established.
What will be the impact on staff?
The staff will be employed by the new Multi-Academy Trust. Staff are legally protected to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions, including pensions. Staff will continue to work in their current schools.
Being part of a Trust will provide greater opportunities for career progression and development.
Will Ofsted still inspect the schools?
Yes. The schools still receive separate Ofsted judgements and individual school performance is still assessed and published in DfE performance tables as it does now.
Will parents still be represented on the governing body?
Yes. The Local Governing Board will still have parent and staff representatives as it does now. The Local Governing Board will have delegated responsibilities from the Trust Board and will retain a local individual focus for each school.
Will uniform/school name/policies change?
There will not be a change to the school uniform or school name. The schools will share MAT policies, in the same way as they currently adopt Local Authority policies. Some policies may change if we feel that they can be improved or made clearer, for example.
Why not stay as a Local Authority (LA) school?
The government funding for Local Authority education services has reduced significantly. The LA must prioritise their statutory duties, so they can only offer very basic support for things like School Improvement. The capacity of the LA will likely reduce further as more schools become academies.
Why form a MAT now?
It is likely that we will have to join a MAT in the future and will have to adopt their processes/ways of working. Some MATs have greater control of curriculum and budget decisions centrally. The governors want to be able to determine how the school works in the future, ensuring the ethos of the school and its unique qualities continue.
How will admissions to the school be affected?
The Trust will become the admissions authority for the school but would continue to have its own admissions policy as it does now. There are no plans to make changes to the admission policy. The Local Authority will continue to have responsibility for making sure there are sufficient school places locally and it will coordinate the admissions process for all schools. The application process for parents and carers will remain the same.
Will the new Academy have to follow the national curriculum?
Academies must deliver "a broad and balanced" curriculum, but academies do have more freedoms than Local Authority maintained schools. The schools will continue to follow the National Curriculum but being an academy will enable us to enrich the curriculum to the benefit of our children.
Will the Additional Resource Provision for pupils with Autism continue to operate?
Yes, we will continue to provide education for those pupils who are eligible for places based on the admissions criteria as detailed on the Solihull SEND offer.
What impact does academy status have for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)?
None. The level of provision and support currently offered to learners with SEN at our school (and all other schools within the Trust) will be maintained as a minimum.
My child currently receives additional learning support, will this continue?
Yes. All additional support will continue as will the level of provision for learners with SEN.
Will the school term/school holiday dates be the same as other Local Authority schools in the area?
Yes. We will coordinate all holidays with the Local Authority dates.
Would the Local Authority still have any involvement in the school if it becomes an Academy?
Yes. The school will still work with the Local Authority and values being part of the wider Solihull family of schools. The school may also continue to buy in to some Local Authority services where these are of benefit to the school and offer the best value for money.
The Local Authority will still retain some responsibilities, relating to aspects of admissions, SEN and children with specific needs.
Will the school have more or less money?
Maintained schools and Academies are funded in the same way under the National Funding Formula. In the same way we currently pay for LA services, we will pay for any MAT services that are run centrally. It is anticipated that some costs would be reduced in terms of efficiencies and economies of scale over time.
Does becoming part of a MAT change the relationship with other local schools?
No. Each Academy within the MAT will continue to collaborate and share best practise and expertise with other local schools and partnerships.
What is the timeline to become a MAT?
The timeline depends on approval from the Regional Schools Commissioner to proceed in developing the proposals. If approval is granted, we could complete the process to form a MAT by the end of this academic year.
Will I have a chance to ask questions or share my views?
Yes. If the proposal moves to the next stage further information will be shared and you will be formally consulted, with the opportunity to attend meetings to ask questions.
You can also read more about academy facts from the Department of Education (click to follow link).
If you wish to ask for further clarity please use this link.