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As members of our community you may be aware our Governing Body has been exploring the opportunity for St. Crispin’s to convert to an Academy. The option of academisation has been open to all schools for some considerable time and we believe it the right moment for us to take this step.
No doubt you are aware that many schools have already converted to be standalone academies in the local area. St. Crispin’s is keen to work in partnership with other local schools and we are therefore proposing joining with Nine Mile Primary School as the founder schools in the creation of an all-through Multi Academy Trust (MAT). Both our schools are rated as Good by Ofsted with outstanding leadership and management which gives us a strong foundation. The founding principle of our partnership is focused on setting structures to provide the very best educational opportunities and outcomes for all students by drawing on expertise across the educational phases. A key principle of this Trust will be to allow both schools and any future schools who join to retain and celebrate their own unique identity and ethos. There is no current intention to exercise the freedoms offered to Academies such as altering timing or patterns of school holidays, nor will there be any substantial change regarding the admission arrangement of either schools. In both schools the establishment of the MAT continues our pursuit of excellence of provision whilst protecting us from the worst effects of austerity and allows greater flexibility in purchasing services.
As part of the decision making process, both Governing Bodies are committed to undertaking full consultation with our stakeholders including our local community and will take their views into account before any final decision is taken. The purpose of this letter is, therefore, to introduce the proposals to you, signpost you to where you can find additional information and explain how you can take part in the consultation.
A frequently asked question sheet, which explains about the practical and legal changes, is attached to this letter.
The formal consultation process begins on 6th March 2017 and will conclude by 31st March 2017. Members of our local community can contribute comments via our bespoke consultation email. The consultation email address is: email@example.com
We are very pleased to share this new development with you and we am keen to hear your thoughts and opinions as part of the consultation process.
Ginny Rhodes Paul Jeffery
Headteacher Chair of Governors
Consultation: Frequently asked questions
What is an Academy?
An academy is a state-funded school, which operates independently within the requirements of national codes of practice for state schools. However, unlike a state school it receives its funding directly from central government rather than through a local authority. The first Academies required a sponsoring organisation and had the sole objective of raising standards within the school. Under new legislation, schools that are either ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ are able to convert to Academies. As an Academy schools have greater freedoms to control their own futures.
What is a Multi-Academy Trust?
Schools have a choice to become “standalone” academies. Overtime, however, it has been recognised that schools under this arrangement are at risk of becoming isolated and are not able to benefit from the economies of scale associated with working with other partners. The Multi Academy Trust model involves a group of Academies forming a ‘Multi Academy Trust’ (MAT). The Multi-Academy Trust model enables schools in the Trust to share school improvement strategies, resources and services more effectively and to provide consistent and continuous support for all pupils in every school.
Schools have always operated within a changing educational landscape and the current situation means that for the schools to do nothing is not a viable option. It is the Government’s intention that all schools in England “will over time” convert to Academy status and will cease to be maintained by their Local Authority. To date, the funding for maintained schools has been routed through Local Authorities who have ‘top sliced’ funding to construct and deliver a set of support services, such as legal advice, across all of their maintained schools. Local Authorities are adapting to this new climate by selling services in packages. So even remaining as we are, a community maintained school under the Local Authority would look different in the future than it does today.
Why have St. Crispin’s with Nine Mile Ride Primary School chosen to be founder schools of a Multi-Academy Trust?
We believe this partnership provides a unique opportunity to create holistic learning journeys across primary and secondary education with both schools learning from each other to provide better experiences within their own settings. The focus, ethos and principles of the two schools are very similar with a commitment to inclusiveness and a core focus on achieving the highest educational outcomes. These, alongside strong, forward thinking leadership, sound governance and financial stability provide a strong platform on which to form a MAT.
So does this mean that all Nine Mile children will go on to St. Crispin’s?
No! There is no intention that the children of Nine Mile Ride will automatically come to St. Crispin’s for their Secondary Education. Parental choice for secondary education remains and allows parents/carers at Nine Mile Ride to choose their secondary school. Even as Academies both schools are required to abide to the admissions code and as such the essential admissions arrangements remain as they are currently.
Will the Trust remain as just St. Crispin’s and Nine Mile Ride?
We hope not! A common feature of both schools is our desire to work with others and be outward looking. There is little doubt that over time we hope other local schools might choose to join this Trust. Certainly as the Trust grows, we hope to benefit increasingly from the economies of scale that this will bring. Uniquely this MAT will be an all through locally grown Trust with a core purpose of improving educational outcomes for children and young people in Wokingham and the surrounding area.
What will change?
Day to day – very little!
There is no intention to change either school, or indeed any school who might join the Trust in the future. A core value of this Trust is that schools must retain their own unique identity and ethos. There will be, therefore, no rebranding or a change in uniform or similar.
Therefore, whilst in one sense little will change for students, parents and staff, behind the scenes there will be change (for the better!). The Trust will support a well-designed school improvement system and will run functions such as H.R. and the management of our premises. We believe we can deliver these functions to the highest standards as well as prudently manage our money in such challenging financial times.
Conversion to academy status is a complex process. One of the fundamental changes for schools joining a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) is the change in Governance arrangements. As we move towards a system of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) the importance of governance only continues to grow. A school-led system should not mean schools working in isolation – far from it. It does mean that whilst schools continue to be fully integrated with their local community they are crucially connected and learning from each other. This working together is about helping to improve the quality of teaching, enhancing the curriculum offer, providing greater opportunities for leadership and development of teachers; and delivering more efficiency and effectiveness of financial and resource management.
This Trust like all MATs would be governed by the Board of Trustees; the Board of Trustees is accountable for the operation and performance of the Trust as a whole and ultimately all schools in the Trust. Therefore, existing Governing Bodies of any school joining this MAT would cease and would reconstitute to become a Local Advisory Board (LAB). The majority of our present governors would continue to serve as either Trustees or Local Advisors. LAB’s will continue to have parental and staff representation.
What is the advantage of being part of the proposed Multi Academy Trust?
We now have the opportunity to work together in a supportive Multi Academy Trust, which builds on the collaborative structures already established. This will give extended opportunities to share good teaching and learning, join together to buy resources and develop a collaborative way of working for the benefit of all our children and families. In addition we will create a pathway for the long-term sustainability of all of our schools.
We have a vision for education that goes beyond individual schools and is fundamentally routed in the ambition of improving educational outcomes for all our learners.
A number of other elements would remain unchanged. An Academy would still be bound by the statutory codes for Special Educational Needs and we have no plans to substantively change the admissions criteria and catchment areas for either school. There are no planned changes to the pay and conditions of staff, to the start and finish times or length of the school day and no change to the school’s policy on pupil discipline or the school uniform.
Our schools have positive relationships with their Local Authority and work well in partnership with other local schools. That commitment to wider partnership working will remain and we will continue to work with our Local Authority in an atmosphere of mutual support.
What happens next?
The consultation period will run from 6th March 2017 to 31st March 2017. The Governing Body will consult with all our combined stakeholders including:
How can I make my views known as part of the consultation?
You are invited to submit your comments and views using the following e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Before I give my views, where can I find out more information?
Further information generally on Academies provided by the DfE can be found on:
We feel it is important to emphasise the distinctiveness of the Multi Academy Trust proposal. It is underpinned by a commitment to work for the good of all the schools, to ensure that none are left in a vulnerable position and our individual identity, characteristics and ethos are maintained and strengthened.
Furthermore, our schools will maintain their commitment to working with others within and beyond our local area for the benefit of all concerned. The freedoms, with the resources, that Academy status will bring would be major factors in enabling our schools to continue to provide the best possible education for our young people and to serve our wider local community.
Re. Reforming and Improving Homework
Earlier this year we conducted a review of the latest research into good practice in homework. The research suggests that, rather than a fixed time or schedule, homework is most effective when its purpose is clear, it is closely tied to consolidating or extending students’ learning in lessons and when it feeds into the next stages of their learning.
We are therefore refreshing our approach to homework with an emphasis on setting work outside of lessons with a clear purpose and that either extends, consolidates or assesses learning in class, or feeds into the learning of the next lesson. As part of this refresh, work set outside of lessons will now be called Personal Study. Students were consulted last term and the name change was one that most, by far, voted for. We have explained to students the thinking behind our refreshed approach in assemblies this term and what it means for them in terms of how Personal Study will be set. They should expect a variety of tasks some of which will be marked, and some of which will feed into their next leaning. In the second half of this term, we will review the change to Personal Study with students via the student council.
We believe that Personal Study should be purposeful, relevant and accessible. Teachers will give students clear guidelines on how long they should spend on a personal task and they will have at least 48 hours between setting of the task and the due date to avoid feeling overburdened.
As a school we value parental feedback and have therefore arranged an email address where you are able to leave comments about the change to Personal Study and to ask questions where required. If you have any comments please email – email@example.com and we will endeavour to respond as soon as possible.
We will look forward to receiving your feedback.
Deputy Head Teacher