EQUA Multi Academy Trust Consultation
We are letting you know that we have applied to the Regional Schools Commissioner seeking agreement for a proposal for St Barnabas Primary School to become part of EQUA Multi Academy Trust.
Our school is a community school and we are committed to working with parents and carers and the wider community. We think it is important that everyone can ask questions, explore the proposal in more detail with us, and be involved in the consultation.
The Governing Board of St Barnabas Primary School will conduct a formal consultation process to seek the views of parents/carers, staff and the local community on the proposal to convert to multi academy trust.
Formal consultation will be conducted from Monday 2nd October to Friday 9th October 2023 for parents and carers and school staff.
This will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to submit their views by means of an on-line survey. Governors will review the survey and the responses. All of your views will be taken into account before a decision is made.
Thank you for your patience and support.
The Governing Body
02.10.23 - Letter of consultation sent to parents/carers
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the Governing body want to join EQUA?
The Governors of St Barnabas Primary School seeing the EQUA Multi Academy Trust as a positive way forward for the school to develop in the future and we hope that you will agree. The school and EQUA's vision for what we want to achieve are very closely aligned which is why we have chosen to partner with EQUA trust.
What will change for your child?
If we proceed, you and your child are unlikely to see any change in your day to day experience of school. The children will not notice any immediate difference. They will be in the same class in the same classrooms.
Leaders, teachers and support staff will remain and have their terms and conditions protected as part of the conversion process; the school will continue to have a governing body; all children on roll at the school will continue; times of the school day, term dates and the school's Church of England status will remain the same.
We will continue to strive for an outstanding education for all our children. However, in time the children may notice changes and improvements in the way that they learn, resulting from the greater training opportunities given to teaching staff to innovate and improve the pupil experience.
Will the uniform change?
There will be no changes to any part of the school uniform.
Will the school name change?
The name of the school will not change.
As most schools in this catchment area are now under EQUA, does this reduce parent choice locally?
St Barnabas is a CEVC Church of England Voluntary Controlled school which has been maintained and supported by the Local Authority and Salisbury Diocese. In recent months the LA has begun to change the way it delivers its support, and what resources are available. We, as a Governing body, felt that it would be in the best interest of the children and the whole school community to explore all the possibilities, and that included joining a MAT. We researched and consulted with various trusts, and we feel that EQUA would be the best fit for St Barnabas.
It is paramount to the Governing body that we keep our autonomy and our values, and that there is very little change to the daily running of the school: this is something that we have discussed at length with Mr Skipp (CEO of EQUA).
There will be no impact on parental choice should we decide to join EQUA.
Is there assurance that the MAT won't merge the leadership teams of smaller schools eg. share one headteacher, one SENDCo?
The Governing Body very much remain committed to ensuring that the merging of Leadership teams is not something that would occur at St Barnabas, having spoken to other schools that have joined EQUA, we feel assured that this would not occur.
The Consultation Process
Why do we need to consult?
Section 5 of the Academies Act 2010 (the ‘Act’) requires the school’s governing body to consult with “such persons as they think appropriate” about whether the school should convert into an academy.
The process is generally flexible and schools have broad discretion as to how it is carried out. However, a formal consultation process is recommended, which provides key stakeholders with all necessary information as to why conversion is being proposed and the changes that will occur due to conversion. There is no statutory requirement to consult with any specific party, however the government recommends that this should include staff members, parents and carers and involve pupils and the wider community.
How long do we need to consult for?
Consultation may take place before an application is made for academy status but must be completed before a funding agreement is entered into with the Secretary of State. The consultation is about listening to the views of interested parties and ensuring their questions are answered. There is no specific time for how long consultation should continue for, but this should be long enough to allow interested groups to have a fair chance to respond and ask questions.
How will the consultation process be conducted?
Consultation for conversion to academy status will be conducted virtually. We have worked to find a solution that will enable consultation to go ahead and the process will be as follows:
- A letter to all parents opening the consultation period
- Please use the form online here to ask any questions not included in the FAQ’s already on the website . We will include answers to frequently asked questions on the school’s website on a dedicated page called “EQUA Multi Academy Trust Consultation” under the “Parents” page. That will include answers to frequently asked questions which will be updated regularly.
- The form will also include whether you support the proposal
- The formal consultation period opens today 02 October 2023 and will remain open until 9 October 2023.
What happens after the consultation closes?
Following the consultation period, the Governing Body will consider all of the feedback and views received during the consultation and will then make the final decision on whether to complete the process. We will write to parens and staff to inform you of our decision.
Key Facts about Academies
What is an academy?
Academies are state-funded schools but they are independent of local authorities meaning they are not run by councils. They can decide on their own curriculums, term dates, school hours, and much more.
They are still funded by the government but they get to decide how they spend their money, from how much they pay teachers to how much they spend on classroom equipment.
Over half of pupils in England are already educated in academies and there are three types:
- Converters – formerly council-run schools that chose to become academies;
- Sponsored – previously underperforming council-run schools in need of support, and/or judged ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted, where the law requires them to become academies; or
- Free schools – brand new schools established to meet a need for good school places in the area.
What are multi academy trusts?
Multi-academy trusts are charities that have responsibility for running a number of academies. They cannot, as charities, be run for financial profit and any surplus monies must be reinvested in the trust.
By working in partnership with each other, the schools within a trust can share staff, curriculum expertise, and effective teaching practices, and work together to deliver the best outcomes for pupils.
While other types of school partnerships can be effective, the key difference with academy trusts is that there is shared accountability for standards across the trust; all schools within the trust support each other and the trust is accountable for them all.
Why is the Government's focus now on supporting schools to join strong trusts?
Joining a multi-academy trust remains a positive choice for schools. They enable the strongest leaders to take responsibility for supporting more schools, develop great teachers, and allow schools to focus on what really matters – teaching, learning, and a curriculum that is based on what works.
Multi-academy trusts have the capacity to provide high-quality training and evidence-based curriculum support for already great teachers, freeing them to focus on what they do best – teaching.
If they have all this freedom, how are they accountable?
This freedom does not mean academies are not regulated. The department’s National and Regional Schools Commissioners and their teams, together with the Education and Skills Funding Agency, provide robust educational and financial oversight of all academy trusts.
Individual academies are still subject to Ofsted inspections and ratings in exactly the same way as council-run schools.
In fact, academies are subject to greater accountability than council-run schools.
How does the staffing model operate?
The regulations that place requirements on maintained schools do not directly apply to academies. General employment law applies to academies in the same way as to other organizations. Teachers must be suitably qualified.
The Academy Trust has responsibility for setting pay and conditions. We will employ all staff on national terms and conditions so there is no change for staff. All teachers employed at an academy have access to the Teachers Pensions Scheme and all other employees at an academy have access to the Local Government Pension Scheme.
What is the curriculum model in an academy?
Academies are required to have a broad and balanced curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental, and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities, and experiences of later life. The curriculum must include English, Maths, and Science; Religious Education; and Relationships education and Health education. Academies are required to take part in the same pupil assessment arrangements and to report on the achievement and attainment of pupils in the same way as all other state-funded schools.
How does the funding work?
The academy trust will receive General Annual Grant from the Secretary of State calculated as the equivalent to that which would be received by a maintained school taking account of the number of pupils at the academy. Capital funding is also available, channelled through the Academy Trust. Every academy trust must abide by the requirements of and have regard to the guidance in the Academies Financial Handbook.
What about SEND?
Academies should be fully inclusive local schools and in common with all other schools have a clear legal duty to do their best to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
What is the admission policy of an academy?
Academies are required to provide education for pupils wholly or mainly drawn from the area in which the academy is situated. Academies must have admission arrangements that clearly set out how children will be admitted, including the criteria that will be applied if there are more applications than available places. Academies are required to provide education for pupils of different abilities (i.e. they may not select pupils by ability).
Are academies inspected by Ofsted?
Academies continue to be subject to Ofsted inspections.