Change is Coming to Our School
Last year the governors working with the Head carried out a review of where we wanted the school to go over the next three to five years and how we could ensure that St Gregory’s remains at the heart of our community, as a place where our children grow and flourish.
We concluded that to secure the support that the school will need to be successful in the long term, St Gregory’s should become an Academy and join a Multi Academy Trust.
We have also had to consider the recent Ofsted judgement on the school and how we can meet Ofsted’s requirements in the future.
After researching and evaluating the Trusts in our area, the governors with the support of the Head and the staff, decided to apply to join Pickwick Academy Trust. We have chosen Pickwick because their values align with ours, their collaborative approach to working with schools which are Primary only, and because they have the resources and capacity to ensure the future of St Gregory’s as a successful school.
We expect to be joining Pickwick in the late autumn. During the summer term we will be inviting you to meet with the Pickwick leadership along with our governors and Mrs Williams to learn more about the Trust, our school’s place in it and to ask any questions you may have.
In the meantime please browse this page where many frequently asked questions are answered.
What is a Multi Academy Trust?
A Multi Academy Trust (MAT) is where a number of schools join together and form a single Trust with a Board of Trustees overseen by the Trust’s Members. Maintained schools such as St Greg’s who want to join the Trust will need to convert to become an academy. St Greg’s is converting to an academy and joining a Multi Academy Trust at the same time.
What is an Academy?
An academy is a state school that is run by an Academy Trust. The Academy Trust enters into an agreement with the Secretary of State for Education that sets out its responsibilities and accountabilities for the effective running of the Academy. The Academy is funded directly by the Government and is no longer run by the Local Authority. The Trust is charitable, which means it will operate as a charity and not for the profit of individuals or businesses.
Academies have more freedoms than other state schools, for example, over their finances and curriculum.
Academies provide a teaching and learning environment that is in line with the best in the maintained sector and offer a broad and balanced curriculum to students of all abilities.
Why are we joining a MAT, can’t we just stay as we are?
Technically yes, however, if St Greg’s wants to have a choice over who it collaborates with in a MAT setting then by converting now St Greg’s is in charge of its own destiny.
MATs are becoming the norm both nationally and locally, it is the direction of travel within education. A number of local schools are in a MAT already.
Why are schools joining MAT’s both locally and nationally?
Schools can use the strong collaboration and accountability afforded by the MAT to drive up standards and share best practice and services across the trust, replacing aspects of former local authority support.
Across the country Local Education Authorities are being eroded in terms of size and power.
The Government, both incumbent and alternative, has indicated that this is their preferred structure.
Schools that have converted to Academy status can now procure services from within a competitive and open marketplace potentially offering both better quality and value for money.
What benefits can an academy bring?
As well as providing the best opportunities for the most able students and those needing additional support, academies have a key part to play in the regeneration of communities and raising standards through innovative approaches to management, governance, teaching and the curriculum.
Would the school change its name, logo, school day structure or uniform?
St Greg’s are not required, and have no plans to change its name, logo or uniform, there are no plans for changes to the school day either.
How are the pupils affected?
The pupils will not notice any immediate differences. They will be in the same uniform, in the same classrooms, with the same teachers.
Over time the pupils may notice some changes and improvements in the way that they learn.
My child has special educational needs. Will the change to academy status mean any changes for her/him?
The Local Authority will continue to have overall responsibility for Special Educational Needs budgets. There will be no difference in the support given for individual pupils whether schools remain under Local Authority control or are part of a Multi Academy Trust.
How will admissions work?
Will there still be local Governor’s?
Pickwick operates with a Local Governance Committee (LGC). The LGC is a strategic body that has the best interests of
the school and the local community at its heart. Its core functions are:
1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school
2. Holding the Head to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
3. Providing support to monitor school expenditure
How are parents represented on the local governing committee?
Ideally one third or more of governors should be elected from the school’s parent
Who would own an academy building and site?
The Trust takes over responsibility for the maintenance of the school building, the site and grounds from the Diocese and Dorset Council.
How is an academy funded and does this improve on current funding arrangements?
The Trust is responsible for the overall financial management of the school. The annual school budget is agreed between the school and the Trust in line with the school’s priorities.
The MAT has staff that each school within the MAT is required to fund. Other than this contribution St Greg’s will retain control over the remaining budget.
The MAT will look at how all the funding available to the school is used and will suggest savings where it see’s fit. By being a part of a MAT St Greg’s will likely benefit from economy of scale, a collection of schools has greater buying power for resources.
Are academies still inspected by Ofsted?
All academies are inspected by Ofsted using the same framework and timescales as for maintained schools.
Once St Greg’s becomes an academy we will lose our existing grading and a new grading will be awarded when we are next inspected.
Who are Pickwick?
Pickwick Academy Trust is made up of nine community and church primary schools across North and South Wiltshire, and North Dorset and is organised into two ‘hubs’:
The North Hub includes Aloeric Primary School, Corsham Primary School, Ivy Lane Primary School and Queen’s Crescent Primary School.
The South Hub includes Ludwell Primary School, Winterslow CofE Primary School, Greentrees Primary School, Pitton CofE Primary School and Gillingham Primary School.
Pickwick Multi-Academy Trust was formed in August 2017 because the four founding schools recognised the huge value of working together to drive school improvement and education innovation. Since then we have been delighted to welcome five more like-minded schools into the Pickwick family. We are an outward-facing and inclusive Trust, which is committed to safeguarding the ethos, uniqueness and identity of each of our schools, and the Christian distinctiveness of our church schools.
You can read about Pickwick via their website
What is the structure of Pickwick MAT?
There will be three tiers of governance:
1) Members of the MAT
Responsible for fundamental decisions such as the constitution of the academy trust – most strategic decisions delegated to the Trustees.
2) Board of Trustees of the MAT (‘the board’).
These are the individuals who run the MAT on a day to day basis and will decide on what and where support is offered. They will also potentially offer centralised services such as HR, IT, Finance etc.
The role of the board is likely to be more strategic than a board of a single school and the trustees will be ultimately responsible for all of the academies it runs.
3) Local Governing Committee’s (‘LGCs’)
Each academy will have its own LGC.
St Greg’s LGC will have a similar status to the current Governing body.
Their will be some changes allowing for more focus on the quality of learning.
LGC powers will be delegated to them by the trustee board.
Are we allowed a PTFA?
The MAT will have no influence over the PTFA.
All monies raised by the PTFA or any other charity/organisation will go directly to St Greg’s and will not need to be shared with other schools within the MAT.