Latest News

Latest News - Summary of parent questions and answers

Multi Academy Trust

Parents Consultation Meetings Questions

Lutley, Lapal, Woodside and Ham Dingle Primary Schools

July 2016

What are the potential negatives of becoming an academy?

We will lose the ‘comfort blanket’ of the Local Authority and the security that goes with this. However, services at LA level are reducing all the time and in 2017 the LA won’t even have responsibility for school improvement any longer. We have considered academisation at governors meetings for a long period of time and have now decided to make the move having considered all the issues. We have looked at the risks and have already tried to put measures in place to try to make sure that we do it well. We are aware of the potential financial pitfalls and have considered these. We intend to have the necessary personnel in place to be able to successfully implement central services such as the Chief Executive Officer and a Business Director who will be competent to support the financial structures. We will follow strict financial controls and have to adhere to the academy financial handbook. We intend to procure legal advice to ensure that we are using the right financial systems and operating tight financial controls. We are controlled by the Regional Schools Commissioner and we have to report our outcomes to the RSC. They hold us to account to maintain standards. The structures we put into place need to be strong to support the schools for years to come. It is a steep learning curve but we will learn from those who have already made this move and will learn from their mistakes and experiences. There is always a risk that it may fail but we will ensure that we have the necessary systems and structures in place to mitigate against this.


As a MAT do we have joint financial accounts with the other schools in the MAT?

Each school will have its own budget. All four schools will pay a percentage into the Trust to run central services.

Where is the money coming from?

Directly from the Government via the EFA – Education Funding Agency

Will the MAT be taking on the liabilities (building issues) of the other schools?

No – each school will have to undergo an independent buildings conditions survey prior to academisation. Identified issues would need to be addressed by the LA prior to conversion. Funding for future building projects would be accessed via the EFA.

How much better off financially will the school be?

The Local Authority currently ‘top slices’ part of each school’s budget to fund central services. This money will now come straight to schools.

For capital work will we have to apply for a loan or does it come from central government?

We would apply to the Government for funding for any capital works via the EFA – Education Funding Agency.

What Local Authority services will you buy into and won't buy into?

We will buy back most if not all in the first instance and then evaluate the quality of the service we receive against that of other providers. We currently have to buy back these services from the LA so this is not an extra cost to the MAT.

Choice of Schools

Why are we joining with two schools currently in Ofsted categories?

We have built positive relationships with both Ham Dingle and Woodside which is why we have chosen to join with them. We are already supporting both schools in some capacity. We have a good track record of improving schools and we know the barriers that exist when supporting schools to improve. Ham Dingle and Woodside have strengths to offer us that we don't have in our Federation and that we can benefit from. When we support in other schools we always bring something positive back to our own schools. In future we may have other good and outstanding schools join our MAT.

What is the timescale for Woodside and Ham Dingle to come out of special measures?

Both schools are making good progress towards the removal of special measures as seen in their HMI reports which are available on the Ofsted website.

Are they (Woodside and Ham Dingle) the only schools we approached?

Woodside and Ham Dingle approached us and because we already enjoy a good working relationship with them we decided to include them in our MAT application. Prior to this, the Department for Education have approached us with a view to us sponsoring other schools, however, we have been determined to retain control over the choice of schools that we want to work with.

Why aren’t other local schools involved in the MAT?

If and when other local schools approach us we will consider them at the right time for us. Many local schools have already chosen to start setting up their own MAT’s, in much the same way as we are now doing.

Why are our staff going off to other schools to support?

As a Teaching School we provide all different kinds of support. Sometime this involves our staff helping colleagues in their schools. Most of the support comes from staff visiting Lutley and Lapal to see us in action and to share our good practice. We also use the staff in our strategic partners’ schools to add to our support capacity.

Can we go in with a secondary school?

There is nothing to stop us from having a secondary school join our MAT in time. However we wanted to starting with what we know well – and that is primary schools. Also we do not want to be led by a secondary school as we feel we have the expertise to lead ourselves. We do have much experience of working with secondary schools, and we will continue to develop this in the meantime.

How many schools would we let join the MAT in a few years’ time? Have we got a long term vision?

We want our MAT to grow organically as and when the time is right for us all. We want to establish ourselves before any expansion. We have no plans to form a large chain of academies.


Do you plan to continue to measure outcomes?

All four schools will benefit from regular and robust scrutiny by the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer. The Regional Schools Commissioner will also hold the MAT to account for standards in all four schools. We will also continue to undergo regular Ofsted inspections.

Will the MAT be answerable to the local authority?

We will be answerable to the Regional Schools Commissioner.


Why a MAT and not extend the Federation?

The direction of travel is multi academy trusts and not federations. The reducing local authority services and increased expectations that education is now a school-led system means that forming a trust is the more advantageous way to move forward. As more schools within the authority become academies, we will reach a tipping point whereby the local authority would no longer be able to support us a maintained federation.

What are the benefits to the children?

The children will benefit from having staff who are performing at a high level. When we support schools we have to ensure that our own practice is very strong – the assessment of the children is accurate, the work in their books shows progress, it is well marked and well presented, the classrooms are well resourced and the staff are qualified and well trained. Our staff will be able to share good practice across four schools and work in teams to develop systems and policies that will benefit all our children. The MAT will ensure that our very best staff stay within the MAT, as they will be given opportunities to develop and grow. The children will, in the future, benefit from a MAT pastoral team, ensuring that they have access to the necessary support and expertise that a team of pastoral staff can provide. The children will have the opportunities to work together and to get to know each, developing wider community links beyond their own schools. They will have increased opportunities to perform and play sport, meet as a schools council and as eco councils.

Will school dinners change?

Certainly not straight away. We intend to carry on buying back services from the Local Authority, including Dudley Catering. However we will carefully monitor the service we receive and may change provider in the future if we feel we can get a better provision elsewhere.

Will the links with the local secondary schools change

We fully intend to carry on with the strong links that already exist between all the primary and secondary schools.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision

We intend to carry on buying back services from the Local Authority, including SEN services such as Learning Support. However one of our goals would be to develop an effective pastoral team across the MAT, such as employing our own Educational Psychologist, to ensure that we have swift and immediate access to support as and when our children and families need it.

Will we still follow the national curriculum and will the children still do SATs?

We intend to follow the national curriculum, ensuring that our children benefit from a broad and balanced curriculum. We may well want to adapt elements of the curriculum to better reflect our local communities, heritage and culture. Our children will continue to follow the same assessment procedures as children in maintained schools, including SATs tests.

Is this ‘all schools or nothing’? Can we go with 2 or 3 schools?

The due diligence procedures that are currently going ahead might identify issues which may delay the academy conversion process or even prevent one school from joining the MAT. This would not stop the conversion.

Would Ham Dingle and Woodside have to become academies even if the MAT doesn’t go ahead?

Yes. The DfE automatically issue all schools who are in special measures with an Academy Order Directive. This means that they will both need to have an academy sponsor regardless of our MAT consultation outcome.

Ham Dingle have been through a huge amount of turbulence in recent times and have not had consistent leadership. The school is very settled at the moment and parents have great faith in the interim Headteacher, Mrs Grace. Will the school be able to retain Mrs Grace if we become a MAT?

It would be unfair to put Mrs Grace on the spot as to what she would like to commit to for the long term, but we would certainly want her to continue. We are aware of the fantastic job she has done in recent months, and are aware of the positive support towards Mrs Grace from parents. Mrs Grace has previous experience in working with academies, so her expertise would of course be a great asset.

Ham Dingle have an IEB in place at the moment. Would there be any means of parents becoming involved in the governance of the school again should we become a MAT?

Yes. IEB’s usually build up a shadow governing body alongside them in order to hand over the governance of the school when the IEB term of office expires. In this instance, there would be a Local Governing Body for Ham Dingle which could include parent and local community representation.

Would there be any potential for Home School Associations/Parent Teacher Associations to work together across the four schools?

Yes, absolutely. This has happened in the past between Lapal and Lutley, and it is something which could certainly be developed.


What is the general feeling of the staff?

Staff at all four schools have been part of consultation meetings and this will continue into the autumn term. Feedback from the staff is that they are excited at the prospect of working in such a close partnership and welcome the opportunities that a MAT can offer in terms of their professional development and opportunities to work in collaboration.

Do you plan to reduce the number of TAs and have more teachers?

We have no plans to reduce the number of teaching assistants and support staff.

Will you be bringing TAs in to become teachers?

We will continue to provide the development opportunities that we currently have for staff to progress in their careers, including opportunities for teaching assistants to develop into cover supervisors, Higher Level Teaching Assistants and trainee teachers.


Where is the community voice to hold the GB to account?

Each school will have a local governing body, which will include community and parent membership. Some MATs do not have this but we feel we want to ensure that the views of parents and the community feed into the MAT at Executive Board level. We also intend to establish parent forums in order to provide a mechanism for the wider school community to hold us to account.

Who will hold the Executive Board to account? Who are the individuals on the member’s board? What are their qualifications?

The Members Board would hold the Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors to account and schools commissioner’s office holds the MAT to account every 5-6 weeks. We have a group of people who have different skills, knowledge and understanding ready to form the Members Board.

Will the detail of the MAT model be shared with parents? At what point will we publish the MAT’s strategic priorities to parents?

The MAT model, including the governance structures and priorities will be shared in the autumn term.

Next steps

Would you give another opportunity once this is published for parents to respond again?

Will there be other forums in the future We want to engage parents again in the autumn term and we will look to ways we can best achieve this, including having a parent forum´╗┐

Return to the latest news section