Becoming an Academy

The Governors and staff at Spaldwick Community Primary School are delighted to inform you that we are considering academising with a view to joining ACES Academy Trust. At this stage, we have not made any formal decisions but we believe this could be a positive move for both the school and the Trust. We know you will have many questions to ask about the benefits of this collaboration and the process of joining the Trust. In this letter, we hope to outline what this means for the school and provide answers to some frequently asked questions, which we hope will be helpful. We ask that you read the information and then, if there are further questions you would like to ask, please send them into the school in a sealed envelope, and we will collate them and send out a reply to everyone just before half term.

What is a Multi Academy Trust?

Academies are publicly funded schools, independent of the local authority, held accountable through a legally binding funding agreement with the Department for Education (DfE). Staff are employed by the academy trust.

Multi-academy trusts (MATs) are groups of academies that have come together to form a charitable company, with a single group of ‘members’ (who have an overview of the governance arrangements) and a single board of trustees. As part of a MAT:

  • individual schools remain as separate entities, with separate names and DfE numbers
  • individual schools still receive separate Ofsted judgements and performance tables are still based on individual schools

MATs are set up as charitable companies and are accountable directly to the Secretary of State through the regional schools’ commissioners.

As charitable companies, MATs have articles of association and a scheme of delegation, legal documents that set out the governance composition and procedures for the Trust.

The people on the main governing board of a MAT are known as Trustees. These roles come with specific legal responsibilities which include:

  • ensuring the organisation remains solvent and spends money in accordance with its charitable objectives
  • ensuring the schools in the MAT provide a good standard of education
  • managing any conflicts of interest

MATs are also required to have a group of members who sit above the board of trustees. The members have a hands-off, but significant, role. They monitor the performance of the Trust and hold the trustees to account. They appoint Trustees and the Headteachers. They intervene if the Trustees are not performing by making changes at board level.

Responsibilities

MATs are required to produce a ‘scheme of delegation’ which outlines which decisions are taken by whom and at what level of the organisation. MATs must also comply with the Academies Financial Handbook which acts as the financial framework for academy trusts and sets out the financial governance requirements that all trusts must adhere to.

Why are we considering joining ACES?

The ACES Academy Trust is a MAT consisting of one secondary school (Hinchingbrooke) and three primary schools (Cromwell Academy, Godmanchester Bridge Academy and Godmanchester Community Academy) based in and around Huntingdon. 

As a small, rural primary school, Spaldwick has faced some significant challenges over recent years. As with many small schools it is increasingly difficult to manage falling roll and reduced budgets and we believe joining ACES would increase the opportunities afforded to our children. We also consider the collaboration available as part of a MAT would increase training and development opportunities for our staff.

A further factor in the consideration of joining ACES, is the geographical location. To enable our children and staff to gain the greatest benefit from working together, we need to be able to access the other schools easily. Spaldwick is situated within close proximity of the ACES schools and the vast majority of our children join Hinchingbrooke at the end of Year 6.

Will we lose our individuality?

Whilst our policies and many practices would be aligned across the schools, each school within the Trust has its own identity and is part of its own community. Our curriculum would continue to be matched to the needs of our children and the decision making around the day to day management of the school would remain with the Headteacher.

Will we lose our staff?

The current team at Spaldwick would all remain employees of the school and they would not be able to be moved unless individual members of staff chose to apply for positions in other schools.

Would we have to re-apply for a school place?

All pupils would automatically remain on the school register.

My child has special educational needs. What happens to their funding?

All funding would continue to be allocated in the same way and would continue to be provided by Cambridgeshire Local Authority.

As we enter into the process of due-diligence we will continue to update you regularly and we look forward to responding to your questions.

After half term, we hope to start the formal consultation period and as part of that process we will set up Teams meetings to consult with you and enable you to discuss any further concerns and questions.

Spaldwick School is a very special place and please be assured, as always, any decision made will be based on what is right for our children and community.

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