Hillcrest Early Years Academy is going to expand into a Multi Academy Trust or a MAT.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQ)
This FAQ has important information regarding the extension of our successful academy.
What is an academy?
Academies are publicly-funded independent schools which operate outside of local authority control. There are currently more than 3,000 schools in England either open as academies or working towards academy status.
What is a Multi-Academy Trust?
A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is a government-funded independent family of schools that provides a very high standard of free education in the community tailored specifically to the educational needs of local children of all learning abilities including special needs.
MATs receive their funding from the Department for Education rather than through a local authority. This means they have much more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum, length of terms and school days and teachers' pay and conditions.
Academies are charitable companies subject to public standards of accountability. They are governed by their own Principals, senior leadership teams and governing bodies selected by a charitable trust which oversees the running of the academy.
Why are we becoming a Multi-Academy Trust?
A MAT has a lot more freedom than an ordinary state school because it’s not under local authority control. Academy status also gives us control over our own destiny and the freedom to manage our own finances, set our curriculum as well as decide what we want to spend our money on. We also gain from the extra benefits and advantages of being part of a collective group of schools with more resources, facilities, expertise, specialist teaching skills and support.
When will we becoming a Multi-Academy Trust?
This will take place later in the year.
How will our school and pupils benefit from becoming a Multi-Academy Trust?
There are huge benefits to becoming a MAT:
- Our children will receive a higher quality and standard of education and a much better and broader range of learning opportunities and experiences.
- We’ll have the freedom to set our own school curriculum to match the needs of our children rather than having to follow a national ‘one size fits all’ curriculum.
- We’ll be able to manage and invest in our school buildings, facilities and services and run them more cost-effectively by being part of a larger group where we can share costs and save money through economies of scale.
- Being part of a larger group of schools strengthens our purchasing power. As we won’t be limited to using local authority suppliers, we’ll be able to negotiate better deals and better value from the products and services we buy from a wider and more competitive supply chain.
- We’ll be able to offer what local parents want.
- All schools which join in our academy will benefit from closer working relationships and additional specialist resources which will be shared across the group. .
- It will help protect staff jobs and create new ones.
Will our school name and uniform change?
No, none of our schools will change their name. We will each keep our identity, uniform, and school logo. The new MAT name and logo will also appear on communications, marketing materials and signage.
Who is paying for all this?
Academies are funded directly by central government rather than the local authority. They receive the same level of per-pupil funding as state schools plus additional money to meet responsibilities no longer provided by their local authority. On top of a grant of £25,000 towards conversion costs from the Department for Education, we will be funded through a general annual grant. We will also have access to other commercial and charitable sources of funding and grant money.
Can we really afford the set up costs of becoming an academy?
The Governors have carefully assessed the costs associated with conversion together with the £25,000 grant issued by the Department of Education to converting academies so that the cost of transfer can be met without using funding allocated within its budget for running the school.
How will the new MAT work?
Our member schools will operate as a separate entity keeping its name, uniform, unique identify and ethos as before. Each school will have its own delegated budget with some funds held centrally by the MAT for shared services and supply contracts. The schools will also share common financial procedures, processes, reporting systems and controls.
How will our school change when we become a Multi-Academy Trust?
The school won’t seem any different to children, parents and staff immediately after conversion. Our teachers will teach in their own schools as they are now and the MAT may create new staff posts that will provide opportunities to work across the academy such as special needs and language teachers.
Will there be any changes to the school year or the school day?
No, there are no plans for the school year to change. We tried this and it did not work with pupils attendance dipping as well as staff becoming ill. We will look at extending the school day to fit more learning in and extending the offer for before and after school clubs.
How will the MAT be governed and who will run it?
The MAT will be governed by one Trust (the members) and a local board of trustees (the Governors). Each school will have equal representation on the board of directors and a local governing body will still lead each school, but with some areas managed by the board of directors for economy and efficiency.
The Academy Trust will be responsible for running the academy which is a charitable company limited by guarantee. The Trust will also be responsible for school land and school assets.
What will be the responsibilities of the MAT’s Governors?
Academy Governors are the direct employers of staff. They are also responsible for health and safety, for ensuring annual external financial audits and they are the school’s admissions authority.
Who appoints the Governors?
Representatives of the school community will form the local governing bodies. They will be appointed in the same way as before by election from the school group they represent or by nomination from the community.
How will the MAT assure quality standards and accountability?
All academies are subject to Ofsted inspection. Any school which is not making satisfactory progress or does not meet expected standards is subject to the same interventions as local authority maintained schools. Our
Where can I find more information?
The Department of Education website has a dedicated section on academies and multi-academy trusts: www.education.gov.uk/academies
The first official meeting of the Members of the board will take place on 14th April 2016. Please submit in writing to this board via the Academy if you have any objections to the MAT being formed or if you would like to offer any suggestions to our Members board.