Westcountry Schools Trust (WeST) Consultation
Plymstock School is exploring the possibility of forming a new collaborative group of schools with other local primary and secondary schools. We can now confirm that the Department for Education has approved, in principle, our plans and we are therefore beginning a period of formal consultation with the stakeholders of Plymstock School. The same process will occur in each of the other schools.
The secondary schools are: Plymstock School, Coombe Dean School, Hele’s School, Ivybridge Community College and Callington Community College.
The primary schools are: Dunstone Primary School, Wembury Primary School, Oreston Community Academy, Sherford Primary School (once open), Yealmpton Primary School, Stowford Primary School, Holbeton County Primary School and Woodlands Park Primary School.
The name of the new collaboration will be the Westcountry Schools Trust (WeST). The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Multi-Academy Trust will be Rob Haring. He is the former Headteacher of two extremely successful schools and is currently CEO of a small, local Multi-Academy Trust.
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 Directors, answerable to the Trust’s Members. The Directors (or trustees) of the MAT are responsible for the strategic oversight of all academies within the MAT. They are the conscience of the MAT, ensuring that the objectives are upheld. They monitor the effectiveness of individual academies, manage central services and report to the Secretary of State. They work to ensure that individual academies are performing to the best of their ability and that they get the support and challenge that they require. The MAT is the legal entity and it has one set of Articles of Association that govern all the academies within it. Each of the academies in the Trust has its own Local Governing Board that deals with local, day-to-day, school issues.
The MAT is accountable for all its academies. However, before agreements are signed, the MAT would work with schools to agree those matters that will be handled centrally and those that will remain the responsibility of the individual academy’s Local Governing Boards. This agreement will be encapsulated in the Scheme of Delegation which will be published on the school website.
Why are our schools considering joining together in a MAT?
Schools have always operated within a changing educational landscape and the introduction by the coalition government of the academies programme and the continued support for this programme from the current Conservative Government means that for schools to do nothing is not a viable option. It is the government’s vision that all schools in England will convert over time to academy status and will cease to be ‘maintained’ by their Local Authority. Furthermore, Local Authorities are adapting to the new landscape and reducing many of their school-focused functions including the capacity of their advisory and consultative teams.
In our region, there are an increasing number of MATs – currently there are 15+ in Plymouth. This is the direction that the education system is moving towards as academies work more closely together for the benefit of children and young people. It is a goal of this government that the clear majority of schools will become academies and work together in MATs to raise the educational achievement of all children.
What are the benefits for Plymstock School?
The local schools involved have co-created a vision for the Westcountry Schools Trust so that education goes beyond individual schools and ensures that every child attends a good or outstanding school. We want all our children to excel in their learning and develop into happy, well-rounded global citizens. The over-arching vision of ‘Every child in a great school – stronger together’ sits comfortably with the aims and ambitions of Plymstock School.
There will be numerous benefits of this partnership to our students and staff including:
- A culture of aspiration across the family of schools where every child feels safe and happy and has the chance to experience a wide range of opportunities.
- A better shared understanding of both primary and secondary phases, which will improve transition and potentially accelerate children’s progress;
- Better opportunities to share best practice and professional development programmes, adding real value to the education of all children;
- Further opportunities to develop teaching and learning practices across all schools;
- Efficiencies in administrative functions and joint procurement; this will help us in these more austere times to target financial resources to the advantage of our students;
- Governance with a clear focus on strategic development, teaching and learning, and accountability;
- The recruitment, retention and professional growth of outstanding staff.
How will being part of the Westcountry Schools Trust improve standards for our children?
Being a member of the Westcountry Schools Trust will enable partner schools to utilise the expertise of staff from every school in the MAT to raise the educational achievement of all children through collaborative working and shared training, where appropriate. The talents of schools together become greater than the sum of their parts.
Will teachers work at different schools?
In most cases staff will remain in their own schools. However, being part of the MAT will provide many professional development opportunities. Staff from schools who are part of the MAT will attend joint training, skills will be shared and good practice will be spread between the schools. There will be the opportunity for some exchange of staff for training and professional development purposes.
How does the admissions process work for academies in the MAT?
Academies 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 comply with the Admissions and Admission Appeals Codes of Practice, as if they were maintained schools. They are also required to participate in Local Authority coordination of admissions processes and the Local Authority’s Fair Access Protocol. All Local Authorities are required to coordinate admissions for primary (including infant and junior) and secondary schools (including 14-19 schools) in their area. All schools, whether Local Authority schools or academies, must participate in the scheme.
What inspection regimes and assessment data information do academies in a MAT have to provide?
All academies are inspected by Ofsted using the same framework and timescales as for maintained schools. As a MAT, all schools will continue to be inspected as separate schools. However, this is not to say that in the future the MAT could be inspected as a whole in line with government policy. For those schools becoming academies by joining the MAT, they will still have to take part in national tests and in teacher assessments of students’ performance as they apply to maintained schools. The results are reported in performance tables in the same way as they are now.
How can I make my views known?
If you wish to submit a comment or viewpoint, you are more than welcome to do so. All comments will be read and considered by the governing body and school leaders. You can do this using the e-mail address below. The closing date for submission of any comments is 9:00am on Friday 19 May for parents and 3:00pm on Tuesday 09 May for staff. Please note, that it may not be possible to provide individual email responses to parents and staff.
The email address is: email@example.com