What is a multi-academy trust?
The members will be senior leaders and are responsible for the strategic oversight of the academy. They are the conscience of the trust, ensuring that the objectives are upheld.
What are the types of academies?
There are two types of academies:
Sponsored academies are those normally falling into the Ofsted ‘inadequate’ category. They require the maximum support within the trust family and conversion to an academy can be the most appropriate solution as part of a suite of measurements to improve educational standards.
Converter academies are successful schools that have chosen to convert to academies in order to benefit from the increased autonomy academy status brings, having decided that becoming an academy is the best route for the school.
Perry Hall Multi-Academy Trust is a converter academy.
How will the governors know what responsibility they will hold?
The trustees hold accountability for the performance of the academies to the Secretary of State. Local governing bodies are effectively committees of the trust with delegated powers given to them by the directors through a Scheme of Delegation.
The trust promotes the principle of ‘supported autonomy’ and the Scheme of Delegation reflects the level of support each academy will receive from the directors and the trust. It also outlines the delegated powers given to them by the directors of the trust.
Broadly speaking a school that is good or outstanding will see little change.
If our school converts to an academy, will the ownership of the land transfer over, or would the trust lease the land from the LA?
The MAT will lease the public land from the freeholder (usually the local authority) on a long lease (125 years).
What capital funding do academies have access to?
Academies will continue to receive their Devolved Formula Capital (DFC), which is allocated on the same basis as for maintained schools.
The Academy Capital Maintenance Fund is administered by the Education Funding Agency and is calculated on the same basis as funding available to maintained schools. Funding is available for expansion and high value repairs. Individual academies within the trust will be able to apply for the grant, but must contact the trust before doing so.
Former VA schools would no longer be required to find the ‘governors 10%’.
The trust, on behalf of its academies, is eligible to seek an Earmarked Annual Grant from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for emergencies. The trust is required to take out insurance at specified minimum levels of cover to protect against potential capital emergencies.
Will the school have to follow the national curriculum?
No. Academies are not required to teach the National Curriculum but rather a broad and balanced one that includes English, Mathematics, Science and Religious Education and promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils preparing them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Within the trust individual academies will be responsible for their own curriculum development in accordance with the Scheme of Delegation and in line with expressed aims and values of the trust.
The trust will co-ordinate and promote its academies to work together more closely to encourage curriculum innovation and sharing of good practise. There will be a curriculum working group of school leaders that will commission and co-ordinate specific curriculum development work across all academies in the trust.
What are the benefits of joining our trust?
- We have a proven track record of raising standards in schools, along with the improvement of success via School to School support. This is not only in Wolverhampton, but also across the borders.
- We have an established Business Management Team with robust process and procedures firmly in place.
- We have significantly raised the outcomes of schools joining our trust.
- We regularly share excellent practice and skills across the trust.
- We have lead Maths and English teachers.
- We have early years experts.
- We hold joint MAT accreditation such as EPICT.
- We have LA moderators employed within our trust.
- We have greater buying power.
- We are Senior Leaders of Education (SLE).
- Our Executive Headteacher is a National Leader of Education and we have a National Support School within our trust.
What does the conversion process involve and how long does it take?
The basic start up grant of £25,000 is paid to all converters when they are approved in principle to become an academy and can be used to support the process. The key steps a school must take are all explained in the DfE’s conversion guide.
There is no specified length of time for the consultation but it usually takes about a month, is as inclusive as possible and involves a range of methods of engagement with stakeholders. The trust will produce template documents to support the process.
Most schools are able to convert in around four months.
How will school improvement be managed and standards monitored?
We ensure there is peer-to-peer support by using local networks and by sharing best practice.
Where academies require intensive support for which there is additional funding or where the academy budget is used, this will be brokered by the trust through agreements with other schools and academies.
The trust will co-ordinate some central school effectiveness provision to monitor academy performance/ achievement and ensure support is provided and matched to need, mainly as brokerage, within the system leadership structure.
Local governing bodies will be responsible for standards in their academies in line with scheme of delegation and will report to the trustees.
If a school has resourced SEN provision will it be expected to continue to provide a service if it becomes an academy?
It is the DfE’s expectation that existing educational provision in the school will transfer to the academy. The local authority (LA) will need to agree the transfer of land and assets (if applicable, for example in the case of separate SEN Units) with the school. The LA will therefore be part of the conversion process and will have the ability to influence the outcome of that process.
As an accountable body, the trust will have more power to advocate on behalf of its academies. Some school collaboratives are looking to employ their own SEN support, e.g. speech therapy, and this is something the trust could facilitate on behalf of its academies.
How will the uniqueness of each school preserved?
Our trust is not about making all academies the same. Whilst there will be some things that will be delivered from the centre, most academies will be able to operate as they currently do. It is important that any school within our Trust will retain its own unique identity.
Ours is a small school, why should it become an academy?
There are many benefits being part of the trust will bring to small schools:
- The additional work involved in operating an academy would be managed by the trust. The workload of headteachers in small schools is already significant with teaching commitments and all the other responsibilities they have. The trust would be able to take some of this bureaucracy away from schools, releasing more time for heads and staff to focus on teaching and learning.
- There are concerns as to what might happen in future if the current leadership of a small school changes and whether a new head could be found when recruitment is so difficult. The trust will be available to support a new headteacher and the possible reduction in workload that this brings makes membership of the trust an attractive option. The trust would also be able to be more flexible in supporting the school with appropriate interim leadership arrangements.
- The sustainability of small schools is being threatened by budget changes and falling pupil rolls. Being part of the trust will make it easier for schools to support each other e.g. to share headteachers and staff. Where necessary the trust can be a strong voice for individual schools. The trust will have a clear policy on school organisation, recognizing the vital contribution of schools to their local communities and that school closure will always be the last resort. Alternatives to closure can be better managed within a trust structure.
- It will be easier for schools of differing contexts within the trust to co-operate, share resources and work together to bring about an improvement in outcomes for pupils.
If our school becomes an academy, how will this affect the governing body?
The principles and expectations of governance are the same in academies as in maintained schools.
Each school will have a local governing body with parent and staff representation. There will be up to three chairs of the local governing bodies within the trust who will also be trustees.
The local governing body manages the academy on behalf of the trust in line with the Scheme of Delegation approved for each individual academy. The flexibility of the academy governance model will allow, in most cases, schools entering the trust to replicate their existing governing body if they wish to do so.
The centralisation of a range of services will enable governors to concentrate on those aspects of their role that make a positive difference to learning and teaching in their own schools. Governors will still be expected to ensure that delegated spending is used prudently for the purposes intended.
Where a school enters the trust as a sponsored academy, the majority of the local governing body will be appointed by the trustees, the headteacher and a parent. There would also be staff and parent forums but these are only consultative arrangements.
What happens to positive and negative balances and what financial gain will academies have?
Through the supplementary funding agreement, schools budget allocations will be ring-fenced.
Positive balances remain with the school though the Education Funding Agency (EFA) currently limit the level of balance a school can hold. We would expect the trust to do the same but, because there is one Funding Agreement, there can be more flexibility in how this is achieved.
Those schools with a deficit budget will need to demonstrate that they have a robust plan to reduce their deficit. It is hoped that the economies of scale that the trust can generate will help, as will the potential to introduce more flexible staffing arrangements.
It is expected that the amount retained from schools budgets to manage the trust and deliver services would be less than the cost of activities currently purchased. The trust will look to procure value for money services.
What assessment regimes and data information do academies have to provide?
All academies are inspected by Ofsted using the same framework and timescales as for maintained schools. Academies will still have to take part in national tests and in teacher assessments of pupils’ performance as they apply to maintained schools. The results are reported in performance tables in the same way as they are now, i.e. against the school where tests were conducted.
What happens to pay and conditions for staff including pensions?
Rules for conversion to academy status mean that Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations apply and all staff will transfer on existing terms and conditions to the trust as the employer.
Academies are not bound by the Standard Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document therefore the trust is responsible for setting the pay and conditions of its staff.
The trust will be honouring the national teachers’ pay and conditions and Teachers’ Pensions Scheme arrangements for as long as they continue to exist and will also ensure that the Local Government Pension Scheme arrangements stay in place for non-teaching staff. As part of the conversion process, the LGPS scheme’s administrators will undertake an actuarial assessment to determine how much the trust will need to contribute.
Full union recognition agreement and acknowledgement of union duties and reasonable time off for trade union duties will be given