MAT Consultation

Anglian Learning Trust : Consultation process 2016

We are proposing to create the Anglian Learning Trust; a new multi academy trust formed through the partnership of four Cambridgeshire secondary schools.

  • Bassingbourn Village College
  • Bottisham Village College
  • The Netherhall School & Sixth Form Centre
  • Sawston Village College

MAT-Decision-letter-to-parents-20-06-16.pdf

8th March 2016 Letter-to-parents-re-MAT.pdf

ALT-Plan-document-March-2016-v3-1-jcu1.pdf

  • Thursday 17th March:  Open meeting for parents and stakeholders at 7.30pm.
  • Thursday 24th March consultation process concludes
  • Extra Ordinary Full Governing Body meeting will be arranged to consider responses.

If you wish to submit a response to these proposals please do so by either writing to the Clerk to Governors, c/o Bassingbourn Village College, South End, Bassingbourn, Nr Royston, Herts, SG8 5NJ or by emailing consultation@bassingbournvc.net

Questions:

If the school proceeds with the process of becoming part of the MAT, will the natural progression for BVC students post 16, still be to the sixth forms that are currently used -- primarily Long and Hills road in Cambridge -- or will students, under the newly formed MAT be expected to naturally stream to the sixth form at Netherhall as it is part of the academy trust?​

A: No there will be no expectation for students post 16 to go to Netherhall, they will have all the options that are available to our current Y11 students.

There is a very obvious disparity in size between BVC and the other schools which are currently listed as partners in the proposed MAT which have a 1000 plus students on their role.  Is there not a danger that this will make BVC very much a junior partner in terms of decision making, funding allocation and in terms of setting the ethos and aims of the trust.  Many existing and prospective parents valued greatly the nurturing community that a small school environment can give.

A: One of the exciting things about the formation of the new trust is that BVC will be an equal partner in all the decision making regardless of the fact that we are the much smaller school. If we were to wait for another opportunity to arise or maybe even forced to join another MAT it would be very unlikely that we would have any say in how the Trust should be run. As Bottisham and Sawston are also  village colleges we are all adamant that we retain our current ethos and particularly for BVC  'the nurturing community that a small school environment can give'.  

Will SEN provision be delivered in the same way for BVC under the newly formed MAT, or will there be a move to centralise throughout the trust?

A: Yes SEN will continue to be delivered in the same was under the new MAT and there are no plans to centralise this throughout the Trust .

How will the additional resources needed to manage the Trust be found?  Will these came from existing school budgets or will additional funding be made available to pay for management time, teacher training etc?

A. The additional resources to run the trust will be paid for out of our existing budgets, although we expect to be able to save money over all by combining a number of back office functions as well as running things like HR in house with a dedicated HR director rather than the 3 schools paying external consultants. The board that will oversee the running of the trust will be made up of governors of the 4 schools and people specifically chosen for a particular skill set.

Would the MAT present an opportunity for BVC to develop a sixth form, preferably at Bassingbourn but if not, within the wider network of schools?

A. There are no plans in adding a sixth form to Bassingbourn and it is unlikely this will change in the foreseeable future. There is a wide provision in Cambridgeshire for post 16 education and we feel our efforts will be best spent maintaining and hopefully improving the excellent outcomes we currently​ achieve at the college. However as Netherhall one of the schools planning on joining the new MAT does has a sixth form we will be able to benefit from from some cross school collaboration in preparing our students for life post 16 and also for staff that may want to teach in a sixth form environment.

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MAT Consultation process 2015

  • Wednesday 17th June 2015: Consultation opens
  •  Monday 29th June 2015: Open meeting for staff at 3.45pm
  • Monday 29th June 2015: Open meeting for parents and stakeholders at 6pm.
  • Wednesday 8th July 2015: Consultation closes
  • Thursday 9th July 2015: Full Governing Body meeting to consider responses.

Questions:

Q. Which other establishments are interested in becoming part of the Multi Academy Trust?
 
A. We are talking to a number of local schools about our plans, but for now are looking to convert to a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) so that we will be prepared for any schools that wish to join in the future. We feel that the Department for education (Dfe) would like to see as many schools as possible convert to academy status in the coming years and a good number of these will only be able to do so as part of a MAT. Becoming a MAT will also make it easier if we agree to sponsor a school that requires help.
 

Q: Have those schools been approached?

             A. We have had informal conversations with a number of schools

Q: How does the proposal to move to a MAT align to the last BVC Ofsted report? How does it move the school from Good to Outstanding?

A: The New Ofsted framework outlines the responsibility of Outstanding schools to support other educational institutions and to lead the system. Working as a MAT will help to share good practice and attract/retain strong teachers and leaders.

Q: What do all the acronyms in the consultation documents mean? (Please provide a glossary)

            A: Glossary now on MAT part of College web site.

Q: What are the alternatives to moving to a MAT structure?

             A. Remaining a standalone academy

Q: What are the benefits and risks of remaining as a single Academy? (in other words, what happens if we do nothing?)

A.   We can't think of any benefits of staying as a single academy however we do think there are several risks of doing so;

- We will be impacted more by decreasing funding

- Less ability in attracting and retaining great staff

- Local Authority: decreasing role and resource, less external support and guidance.

- We will be more susceptible to the impact of falling student numbers

- Will only be able to work with our limited resources rather than been able to share the cost. A standalone academy works on its own with both staff and governors spending time & resources on many tasks duplicated in other schools.

Q: What is the Governing Body's current view of the sustainability of the school in the current context, with regard to the demographics of its catchment area? Is the school of a viable scale to continue? 

A.  The Governing Body do think the school is of a viable scale to continue as a single academy for the time being, although with reducing numbers transferring from our feeder schools due to local demographics and decreasing funding from central government we will find life increasingly difficult.

Q: What new sources of funding become available should the school convert to a MAT? 

A.  There are no direct new forms of funding available should a school convert, although once other schools join the MAT additional ways of using budgets can be explored thoroughly.

Q: Is there currently a problem with staff retention? What staff turnover does the school has? What is the average tenure? 

A.  We are fortunate that overall we have good staff retention and do not suffer from a large turnover of staff. That said as a small school there are fewer opportunities for ambitious staff and we are see larger MAT's as a more attractive option for some. It is also becoming harder to recruit outstanding staff in some key areas such as Maths, English and the Sciences.

We have a healthy staff turnover; we have had difficulty filling some vacancies in certain subjects where there are national shortages, particularly as we don’t have a 6th form where other local secondary academies do.

We have an experienced and effective senior management team who are looking for new challenges and heading towards the top of their pay spines; we would like to retain them by being able to offer additional career opportunities.

Q: What are the direct and indirect costs of conversion? 

A. the direct costs of converting will be between 3 and 5 thousand pounds. The indirect costs will be the time invested by the Senior Leadership Team and Governing in the process

Q: How does the triple layering of governance within a MAT benefit BVC's students? 

A.  There will only be one extra layer of governance, which is the MAT board of Trustees/Directors. With a wider pool of people available to the MAT it is hoped that more specialists can be recruited to the board thereby enhancing governance. In any case we do not see the additional layer as a negative.

We feel the opportunity to work with governors from other schools with different areas of expertise will enhance governance for all schools in the MAT

Q: What benefits accrue to BVC's students from partnering with a failing school (financially or academically)? 

A:    Failing schools have areas of strong teaching and leadership which can be shared to improve the provision at BVC. Working as part of a larger team, sharing good practice, challenging current perceptions will benefit all staff involved and therefore will impact positively on teaching. Once the sponsored school is working well all the other benefits of having it in the MAT will apply.

Q: How does the BVC Governing Body assess the conditions and decisions laid out in the ASCL guidance paper (specifically those contained in pages 14-16)?   

A.   If approval is granted to convert to a MAT we will proceed to the application process which will involve working through all of the points raised in the ASCL document. To aid us with this we will be employing an experienced consultant and have already had discussions with schools that have recently gone through the process.

Q: What are the top 10 risks in converting to an MAT, and what are the Governing Body's plans for the management of those risks?

A. We assess the main risks to be:

  • Principal, Senior Leadership Team and Governors too stretched
  • A school may join or be sponsored with financial problems
  • A school may join or be sponsored that is less academically successful than first thought.

We are fortunate to have a very experienced and able senior leadership team as well as a very able governor body. We will all be involved in ensuring that the senior staff members and governors do not spread themselves to thinly.

For the last two points it will be crucial that we perform good due diligence on any school either wishing to join the MAT or one being sponsored by the MAT.

Q: What advantages are there for the children if BVC were to join with a primary school?

A.   Joining with a Primary school:

  • More systematic and thorough transition process, enabling students to settle and make progress more quickly.
  • Formal sharing of best practice across phases develops teaching practice for all teachers. Secondary teachers can learn a lot from their primary colleagues (had different training and experiences)
  • older students will benefit from having greater experience of leading younger students
  • formal development of curricular projects to broaden their experiences.