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Bath and Wells Multi Academy Trust

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about multi-academy trusts

What is a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)?

A ‘MAT’ is a group of schools working in partnership under one employer, governed by a single board of members and directors. 

The trust employs staff as opposed to a local authority in the case of state-funded schools. 

The school leader (Head of School, Headteacher or Executive Headteacher) at each academy school is responsible for its day-to-day running. 

Schools are then overseen by the academy trust, which provides support and advice. There is a central team, led by the CEO. The central team supports all schools with school improvement, HR, finance etc. 

Expertise is shared among schools which belong to an academy trust and its directors are responsible for strategic overviews of those schools under its umbrella.

Why are schools required to become part of a MAT?

The government expects all schools to become part of a multi-academy trust by 2030.

Although the government may change before then, the Labour government also supports the academization agenda. 

 What are the advantages of being part of a MAT

  •  Shared accountability: MATs are deemed to be responsible for schools. This means that headteachers are not expected to take all the responsibility for running their schools.
  • Innovation: Staff can be more innovative in academy schools to try new things and think outside the box in the way they teach their children and the curriculum they follow. 
  • Funding: Academies have access to extra funding through sponsorship which can enable them to improve facilities and offer a wider range of educational visits and trips to their students. 
  • Support: Bath and Wells MAT provides school support for leaders, education, finance, HR, estates, IT and governance. This means that school leaders are not expected to know and do everything.  
  • Shared expertise and resources: Schools in a multi-academy trust benefit from being able to share money, best practices and even their staff, who can be deployed at sister schools who might be short-staffed or in need of a fresh teaching approach. Struggling schools can also be supported by others in their trust to help them improve. 
  • Future thinking: We are in the process of devising a people strategy which delivers a career path and employee package to support our employees. We want to recruit and retain great people, and support them to achieve their goals.  

What are the disadvantages?  

  • Autonomy: Some headteachers and governors worry that they will not be able to make decisions for their schools. The scheme of delegation shows who makes decisions about which areas. In principle, if a school is working well, delivering a good standard of education and meeting financial and compliance requirements, we have confidence in our school leaders. We have oversight of what schools are doing and we monitor key areas, but generally we do not interfere. 
  • Intervention: Where a school is struggling to deliver good education or a balanced budget, the trust has the responsibility to intervene. This usually manifests as increased school support and oversight.  

 What is the Scheme of Delegation?

A MAT scheme of delegation sets out where responsibilities and accountabilities sit within a multi-academy trust's (MAT's) structure. All MATs will delegate this differently, so the scheme is something that will be referred to regularly. 

 How is a MAT structured

  • MAT Members
  • MAT Trustees
  • CEO
  • Local Governing Committee
  • Head of School/Headteacher/Executive Headteacher

FAQs about academies

What is an academy?

An academy is an independent state-funded school. This means it’s funded directly by the government (the Education Funding Agency, EFA) rather than by a local authority as maintained schools are.

The government no longer allows schools to become stand-alone academies. The government requires all schools to join a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) by 2030.

How are academies different from LA primary schools?

As local authorities do not fund academies, academies have more freedom to decide certain things for themselves. For example, they can control their own curriculum and finances, and decide how long terms and school days will be.  

 Are academies bound by the same rules as other schools? 

Academies are required to follow the same statutory guidance as other schools. This includes SEN Code of Practice, Admissions Code, Suspensions and Exclusions.

There are specific requirements for academies regarding what policies the school must have and what must be published on the school website. 

Will the academy follow the National Curriculum?

Yes but schools have more freedom to try different things in the curriculum and make sure that what is taught is relevant to our pupils and their specific needs.

 Will our relationship with local schools and the community change?

No. Academy funding agreements state that trusts must ensure that the school will be at the heart of its community, collaborating and sharing facilities and expertise with other local schools and the wider community.

 How does academy status affect SEN funding?

SEN funding will come directly from the government through the Education Funding Agency. Funding allocated to a named child would continue to be funded directly by the local authority, as it is now.

 Will the school need to change its name?

BWMAT do not require the school to change its name. 

 Will there be a new uniform/logo?

BWMAT do not require the school to change uniform or logo.

 FAQs about the process for becoming an academy

 How does a school become an academy?

  • Schools need agreement from their governing body and (and the diocese if a church school), as well as the trust.

  • One agreement from all parties is documented, the school should notify the local authority and complete the on-line application to become and academy.

  • The application is considered by the relevant government representatives.

  • If they are in agreement, an academy order is granted.

  • This releases funding to carry out the conversion process.

  • Both parties should ensure the necessary consultation and due diligence processes are completed.

  • Conversion normally takes approximately 5 months. 

What happens once an academy order is granted? 

The school should appoint a solicitor

  • Carry out statutory consultation

  • Ensure the legal documentation is completed. This includes:

    • Memorandum & Article's (draft to DfE 2 months before conversion)

    • Church Supplemental Agreement (if required)

    • Funding Agreement

    • 125 year lease

    • Commercial Transfer Agreement (confirmed 1 month before conversion)

    • TUPE information and processes

    • Final sign-off of legal documentation 

Is an academy like a business? 

No. A business makes profit for its shareholders. An academy is a charitable trust which cannot make profit. However, BWMAT works in a business-like way, following streamlined systems and processes which support schools and accountability.  

Who makes the decision to become an academy? 

The governing body makes the decision, once they have carried out due diligence and consulted with staff and parents.

 FAQs for staff

 Will the terms of employment for staff change?

As part of TUPE arrangements, staff are entitled to transfer to the new academy under the same employment terms and conditions. 

In the event that any changes need to be made to terms and conditions of employment, the Trust would consult with staff and trade unions, once the academy has been established. 

This would be necessary if, for example, the Trust wished to introduce a particular organisational change to the academy’s term dates.  

What will happen with regard to staff pensions?

If you are a teacher in the current school, your pension will continue as part of the teacher’s pension scheme, with the Trust continuing with the same employer responsibilities as the predecessor school. 

Non-teaching staff will usually be members of the local government pension scheme and the Trust will secure ‘admitted body’ status with the local pension authority to protect the pension rights of employees and take on employer responsibility, both for contributions and administration of the scheme. Staff can opt out of either if they wish to make alternative provision. 

What happens for terms and conditions of temporary staff?

You will be employed under the MAT conditions of service, which include policies, holiday and pay grades. 

Will academising change our school?

Yes. Generally the biggest impact is on school leaders as they adjust to the new ways of working.





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