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Thursday October 19th 2017

Bletchingley Village Primary School forming a Multi Academy Trust – latest update

Bletchingley Village Primary School is currently working with four local schools with the intention of forming a Tandridge based Multi Academy Trust. Please find attached a Letter from CoG 9-2-17 from the Chair of the Governors regarding the next steps.

CONVERTING TO ACADEMY STATUS – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

Who runs the trust? Who would be the trustees?

The newly formed Trust will have a Board of Directors (Trustees) including individuals from the local governing body of each of the schools forming the trust. Trustees will be selected based on knowledge, expertise and experience. Appointment of trustees will be something that will be addressed in the early part of the academisation process.

Will Chris Bower still be teaching gymnastics if the school become an academy?

BVPS is currently able to employ Mr Bower for two days a week to teach gymnastics as part of our PE curriculum using the Primary PE and Sports Premium funding. This annual premium must be used to fund additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE and Sport to encourage the development of healthy, active lifestyles. Currently, the conditions for this grant are no different for maintained Primary schools and Primary academies. There is no guarantee from the Department for Education as to how long this funding will be available but we intend to continue to employ Mr Bower for as long as we can, regardless of our status.

Will the PE and Sports provision improve through sharing of expertise and resources?

We are hoping that being part of a MAT will ensure that sharing of expertise and resources will improve provision in all areas. We already have a member of Warlingham’s PE team working with us to teach the children and staff games skills.

When would conversion happen?

All academy conversions happen on the 1st of a month. Currently, our target date is 1st April 2017 but there are a lot of stages in the conversion process and it is important that each stage is completed properly rather than rushing to hit a target date. We would expect conversion to happen before the end of this academic year if possible.

Would the school have greater control over their money?

As an academy the school will have fewer restrictions on where services can be bought from and as part of a MAT, should have greater buying power through economies of scale. BVPS are fortunate in having a very shrewd and prudent School Business Manager who will continue to work in the interests of BVPS.

 

Would there be any changes to the cost or provision of school lunches?

School lunches are provided by Surrey Commercial Services; BVPS do not intend to change the current provider. However, as an academy, we would have the flexibility to buy in the service from elsewhere if we felt that they offered better quality and/or value for money. We currently have no say in how much Surrey Commercial Services charge for their meals.

Would the school have greater opportunity for bidding for additional funding?

As an academy, BVPS would be able to apply to the Education Finance Agency for capital funding in the annual Condition Improvement Fund bidding round. We are fortunate in working with someone who has extensive knowledge and success in bidding for various grants and funding; we don’t envisage this changing. There are more opportunities to bid for funding, as individual schools are prohibited from applying for many of the funding streams on offer.

Can other schools join; is there any restriction on the number of schools that can join?

Any other school can join the MAT. There is no restriction on the number of schools that can be in one MAT; ensuring that shared practices are financially viable, sustainable and achieve good outcomes should be the deciding factor. The current view is that 5 to 15 is the optimum number and we would envisage growing towards that number over time, once the MAT is established enough to take on new members.

Can the school leave the MAT or revert to being a maintained school once academy conversion has taken place?

An academy cannot revert to being a maintained school; there is a seven year notice period for leaving a MAT. If a MAT or a school as part of a MAT was not succeeding, the Department for Education/Regional Schools Commissioner could force an academy to move MATs and/or disband a MAT.