Schools looking to form multi academy trust

Abi and Libby

A number of the Local Authority maintained schools in the area have decided to explore whether a community-focused multi-academy trust would be in the best interests of young people, their families and the wider community.

The schools involved are Alderley Edge Community Primary School, Ashdene Primary School, Lindow Community Primary School, St Anne's Fulshaw C of E Primary School, Styal Primary School and Wilmslow High School.

The six schools are now seeking views on the establishment of The Collaborative Educational Trust of Wilmslow which will formalise the existing collaboration between these local schools and aim to ensure that they can work together, both now and in the future, in the best interests of those within the school community.

A spokesperson for the group of schools said "Many factors have been carefully considered in developing this proposal: learning outcomes and opportunities, teaching, staffing, finance and governance.

"The governing board of each school involved remains absolutely committed to its own individual character, ethos and values, allowing us to offer a great education to all learners in our community.

"We all believe that creating the new trust together and being founding schools will allow us the best opportunity to maintain and further develop the excellent educational opportunities that we currently offer for all of our pupils."

Over 65% of secondary schools and 22% of primary schools nationally now have academy status. This situation is rapidly changing with a growing number of academy conversions and MATs being planned. In the last few years, four local primary schools have already converted to an Academy or joined existing MATs in the region.

A spokesperson for the group of schools added "This change in school status, nationally and locally, is combined with Local Authorities losing their role in school improvement and with a sharp decline in the support available for schools through the Local Authority. This context, in addition to the rapid pace of edu- cational reform and pressures on school funding, creates both a need and an opportunity for schools to work together to provide school-to-school support and to facilitate school improvement.

"Establishing a MAT would provide a clear structure and mechanism for our schools to work together and to build upon our existing strengths. We wish to act now to define our own MAT, to base this on our present values and approaches and to control our own direction of travel both now and in the future."

Their reasons for seeking academy status and the establishment of a MAT are summarised below:

• To expand the provision offering a 0-19 education that is truly inclusive, being able to support every child through every stage of its learning journey.

• To create a real family of schools and to develop a 'through school' framework.

• To form a shared understanding of both primary and secondary phases, which will improve transition and accelerate students' progress.

• Develop the shared values of the partnership.

• To deepen our collaboration to secure the best outcomes for all the children.

• To work together to improve teaching and learning and continue to maintain a high quality curriculum in each school.

• To enable the school leadership teams to focus more on teaching and learning and whole school improvement by reducing the administrative burden on individual schools on issues such as policy development and procurement.

• To provide effective school-to-school support by sharing best practice.

• To enhance school improvement within the partnership.

• To pool resources, services and support to ensure the best outcomes for all in our community.

• To respect, maintain and develop each school's individual culture, values, ethos and identity.

• To improve recruitment, retention, Continuing Professional Development and succession planning.

• To achieve economies of scale and to improve value for money.

• To shape our destiny within a changing school system.

The public consultation commenced on Monday, 15th January, and will run until Wednesday 31st January.

More detailed information can be found on their joint webpage

The community can get involved by emailing a response via the relevant school email addresses found on the 'contact us' page of the webpage. Parents and carers will also have the opportunity to attend consultation meetings at the schools involved.

Feedback from the consultation will be reviewed by the Full Governing Body of each of the schools involved and they will decide individually on whether to proceed with the application for academy status.

If the proposal is agreed, all schools seeking to apply to convert to academy status and to join the MAT will then work together to further shape these proposals and agree the final MAT structure and its operational arrangements.

St Anne's Fulshaw CE Primary School has an agreement in principle to proceed from the Chester Diocese and will need to apply to both the Diocese and the DfE if the Governing Body decide to proceed with the application for academy status.