Your Questions Answered
Worcester Diocese – Diocesan Multi-Academy Trust (DoWMAT) – Frequently Asked Questions.
1. WHAT IS A MULTI-ACADEMY TRUST?
A multi-academy trust is a group of schools working in collaboration as one entity to improve and maintain high educational standards across the Trust. The multi-academy trust is governed through a single set of members and directors / trustees. The group of schools which form the MAT share a common ethos and vision. There are a variety of MATs across the country – some are made up just of primary schools, some are just made up of faith schools (Church of England or Catholic). The Worcester Diocese Multi-Academy Trust is currently made up of first, primary and middle schools.
2. WHAT MODELS ARE OPEN TO US AS A CHURCH SCHOOL?
This depends whether you are a Voluntary Aided or Voluntary Controlled school. All church schools are welcome to join with other schools, including non-church schools but the governance must reflect their status:
a. Voluntary Aided schools – these must have a majority of members and directors who have been appointed by the Diocese. This is the same model as their present governing body. If there are any VA schools in a MAT, then the board of directors and members must reflect this model.
b. Voluntary Controlled schools – these must have up to 25% of members and directors appointed by the Diocese. If there are any VC schools in a MAT, then the board of directors and members must reflect this model.
The Diocesan Multi Academy Trust will be a Voluntary Aided model.
4. DOES THIS MEAN ALL SCHOOLS IN THE DOWMAT WILL HAVE TO BECOME VOLUNTARY AIDED?
Absolutely not. All schools will continue with their own structure of governance in the form of their local governing body (LGB). If you are a community school or are VC, then that is what you stay.
5. DOES OUR CHURCH SCHOOL HAVE TO JOIN DOWMAT?
No. Local governing bodies can decide what is best for their own school. There are a number of options for schools who wish to become academies and join a multi-academy trust. The DoWMAT is only one of several options.
6. WHO ARE THE TRUSTEES OF THE MULTI-ACADEMY TRUST AND WHAT ARE THEY RESPONSIBLE FOR?
The trustees are responsible for three core governance areas as performed by a governing body in a maintained school. These include:
-Providing the strategic direction and vision
-Ensuring the headteachers deliver against expectations, objectives and achieve positive educational results
-Financial responsibility and stability
The MAT has the structure of a charitable company and the trustees are therefore company directors, and must comply with company law requirements. Model ESFA articles state the Chair of the Board of Trustees will also be a member to provide a connection between the two levels. Members hold trustees to account. The Board of Trustees may choose to set up different committees covering key areas specifically; such as education standards and finance.
7. WOULD THE LOCAL GOVERNING BODY STRUCTURE OF THE SCHOOL REMAIN UNALTERED? WOULD THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES BE THE SAME?
The Local Governing Body within a MAT holds no legal position. Multi-Academy Trusts can exist without them – with the Board fulfilling this role. In the case of DoWMAT, The Diocese of Worcester Multi-Academy Trust Board is, ultimately, the Trust’s accountable body. The Board meets regularly with a particular focus on School Improvement and Finance. The Board is ultimately responsible for each of the academies within the MAT and delegates the day to day running of the MAT to the CEO.
However, DoWMAT remains committed to the principle of local governance by local people; recognising and valuing the effort taken by members of the Local Governing Bodies who support our academies in delivering strategic management and operational oversight.
In particular, for schools with a Christian character, Local Governing Bodies have an important role to play in promoting high standards and upholding the Christian distinctiveness of the academy. They must ensure that the students are attending a successful academy which provides them with a good education and supports their holistic well-being.
Each academy within the Worcester Diocese Academy Trust (DoWMAT) retains its own Local Governing Body. There is a scheme of delegation outlining the responsibilities of the LGB.
The CEO meets with the Chairs of the LGBs on a half termly basis to discuss matters arising and ensure LGBs are compliant in terms of their Instrument of Governance etc and fully informed to support their academy as a critical friend.
8. AFTER STAFF TRANSFER UNDER TUPE WOULD NATIONAL GUIDEINES BE FOLLOWED FOR PAY AND CONDITIONS?
On conversion to academy status teachers and staff employed by the Local Authority will transfer with the same terms and conditions, via a formal TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) process. Conversion will not affect any union memberships.
9. HOW DOES THE BOARD DECIDE WHICH SCHOOLS TO TAKE INTO DOWMAT?
Before approving any school to become part of DoWMAT, the Board will undertake a due diligence process looking at finance, buildings, teaching and learning, data etc. As the Trust is in its infancy, significant financial liabilities in terms of budget / buildings would be highlighted as a concern.
10. WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE FOR SCHOOLS WITHIN THE DOWMAT FOR SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT? HOW DO YOU ENSURE SCHOOLS ARE READY TO FACE THEIR NEXT INSPECTION?
A key driver of support for school improvement comes from the Academy Learning Partners.
These are responsible for providing high quality school improvement support and challenge within their designated DoWMAT academy. The ALPs work alongside the CEO and other members of the ALP team to ensure consistency in the quality and approach of school improvement support across all DoWMAT academies.
The main responsibilities of the ALP are to:
• Deliver a package of Academy Improvement support to their named DoWMAT academy. This support will take the form of a half termly visit to evaluate Teaching and Learning / School Effectiveness.
• Provide challenge and support to the Headteacher and Senior Leaders in their named DoWMAT academy
• Review the progress made over successive visits towards key academy priorities and provide an independent view to DoWMAT / academy leaders as to the robustness and pace of that progress
• Produce a written report on school effectiveness within their named DoWMAT academy at the end of each visit. This report will be handed directly to the CEO who is responsible for sharing it with the DoWMAT Board, the academy Headteacher and the Local Governing Body. This report (along with other documentation) will be used by the CEO to hold the Headteacher to account.
• Immediately alert the CEO to any serious / priority concerns which may arise during an ALP visit
• Support the rapid improvement of their named DoWMAT academy to ensure they are at least good at their next Section 5 / 8 Inspection
• Agree and recommend challenging and meaningful targets for improved attainment within their named DoWMAT academy
• Deliver a consistent Diocesan message in line with the aims and objectives of the DoWMAT
• Work alongside other members of the ALP team to ensure consistency in the quality and approach of school improvement support across all DoWMAT academies
• Carry out Academy Reviews in conjunction with other ALPs and the DoWMAT CEO for Priority Academies, as required
• Undertake the Headteacher Performance Management within their named DoWMAT academy along with the DoWMAT CEO and ensure these are conducted in line with policy
• Provide advice to the academy / DoWMAT CEO on school development issues, as required
• Signpost academies / DoWMAT CEO towards appropriate external school improvement support, as appropriate
• Monitor the performance standards achieved and the quality of education in all DoWMAT Academies as directed by the DoWMAT CEO
• Recommend any necessary actions needed to bring about improvement and support the implementation of these, as appropriate, to ensure they have the required impact
• Work with the Academy team to disseminate highly effective practice across the DoWMAT, as appropriate
• Make accurate judgments on the development state of their named DoWMAT academy using first-hand knowledge from documents, discussion, observations and data so that the MAT board can ensure all their Academies receive the correct programme of support
For Priority Schools – those in Requires Improvement or with a high level of identified needs, the Trust will implement a termly Teaching and Learning Review. This will be undertaken by members of the ALP team and include the DoWMAT CEO.
11. HOW IS CPD ORGANISED WITHIN THE TRUST?
Continual Professional Development support is accessed by the Trust academies in various ways. We would expect our academies to continue seeking out the best sources for CPD for their staff in the same way as before. This may include;
• Using the expertise of their senior and middle leaders to deliver training, offer support or share best practice in house
• Continuing to work with existing local cluster groups
• Using Babcock or national training where appropriate
• Accessing the training support from the Diocese Education Team package (part of the DoWMAT SLA)
In addition, our academies are encouraged and supported to work collaboratively and share ideas and best practice. This aspect of the DoWMAT is currently a focus for our Headteacher meetings.
DoWMAT works with a number of school improvement providers to provide specific, targeted training. These providers include Babcock, local Teaching Schools, independent advisors and the University.
12. WILL PUPILS' EDUCATION BE DISRUPTED BY A MOVE TO ACADEMY STATUS?
No. When an academy is approved to go ahead, the DoWMAT Central Team will work with the school to ensure all changes are achieved with minimal disruption to the staff and students. Most of the changes will take place behind the scenes with support from a dedicated team from the DoWMAT, who have gone through this process before with other schools.
13. IF WE MOVE TO BEING AN ACADEMY WITHIN DOWMAT, WILL THIS CHANGE WHAT IS TAUGHT?
DoWMAT academies are expected to continue to offer the full range of National Curriculum subjects. OFSTED continue to inspect academies and their handbook for inspection is the same one as used in any other school. The academy would be expected to strive to be outstanding in both the statutory OFSTED (section 5) and the Church School (section 48) inspections. In other words, there may be no change in what or how pupils are taught.
14. HOW ARE THE FINANCES WITHIN A MULTI ACADEMY TRUST ORGANISED?
The MAT receives a general annual grant (GAG) relating to each academy and this is under the control of the Trustees. DoWMAT retains 5% of the GAG funding and allocates the remainder to the individual academy. Details of the support the academy will receive for this 5% is detailed in the DoWMAT Service Level Agreement.
Each MAT will have a master funding agreement, and supplementary agreement with each academy, which is signed by the Secretary of State for Education.
The MAT will file a single set of academy financial statements with the EFA and at Companies House.
15. HOW ARE SCHOOLS WITHIN DOWMAT HELD ACCOUNTABLE? WHAT INFORMATION IS LOOKED AT BY DOWMAT IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT THE SCHOOL REMAINS ON TRACK ACADEMICALLY?
• ALP Reports – based on termly visits / learning walks / book scrutinies / pupil discussions / disucussions with senior / middle leaders
• Data / ASP / FFT / the academy's internal tracking data
• Academy Development Plan
• Academy Self Evaluations
• Feedback from external inspections
• Feedback from termly Reviews undertaken by the Trust for Priority schools
• Feedback from CEO visit
16. WHAT WOULD BE THE BIGGEST CHANGES THAT THE SCHOOL WOULD NOTICE IF WE BECAME A DOWMAT ACADEMY?
• Change of financial operating system – to SAGE
• Change in level of responsibility for the academy business manager – this is vast as you will now be accounting for public money. The Business Manager will most likely need relevant training and possibly additional hours.
• The financial year will run from the 1st Sept – 31st August
• Budget will arrive monthly and so spend needs to be managed carefully throughout the year. You can’t buy all your resources and furniture for the year in June.
• The school will receive high quality school improvement direction, challenge and support every half term from the Academy Learning Partners
• The school will adopt a raft of Trust wide policies – this should free up some time for the Headteacher
• The headteacher will be well supported to lead and manage a school in the current, often turbulent educational landscape. When unpleasant issues arise, staff competency proceedings, parent complaints, grievance procedures, ofsted, etc the CEO can be called upon to support / take over, when required.
• Immediate review of buildings and Health and Safety undertaken. If key aspects of the building are in disrepair, the Trust will put in a CIF bid for the next round of funding and organise the works, should the bid be successful.