Seven schools hold talks on multi-academy trust

The Oxford Times: Sarah Kerswell, right, from Hanborough Manor addresses the meeting on forming an academy. Picture: OX64950 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » Sarah Kerswell, right, from Hanborough Manor addresses the meeting on forming an academy. Picture: OX64950 Damian Halliwell

SEVEN schools are hoping to become a Multi Academy Trust before the end of the school year.

Bartholomew School in Eynsham, already an academy, is looking to join up with six primary schools in the area, who are already part of the Eynsham Partnership.

The schools have begun a five-week consultation period with parents with the view to convert to Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) status at the start of June at the earliest.

If it goes ahead it could be the first MAT to include Voluntary Aided (VA) schools, among community schools, in the country.

The primary schools are: Stanton Harcourt CE (VC), Eynsham Community Primary, St Peter’s Church of England Primary School (VA), Hanborough Manor Primary (VC), Standlake Church of England Primary School (VC) and Freeland Church of England Primary School (VC).

St Peter’s is a voluntary aided school, where the Oxford Diocese board of education contributes to building costs. The other church schools are voluntary controlled with funding coming from the county council.

Andy Hamilton, Bartholomew School head, said talks had been going on for 18 months and they were now at a stage where it could be taken forward.

He said: “This is a decision which we have been coming to over a long period of time.

“We think it is the best for the future of our schools. The local authority is making cuts and by becoming an academy we can have control over the money which comes to us.

“The Department for Education is very excited by this possible MAT as we could pave the way for others.”

The heads think the move will mean more control over finances and the ability to buy in better services.

Partnership chairwoman and Stanton Harcourt Primary School headteacher Karen Jupp said: “As schools we have already been working together for a long time, so it is not something that will be alien to work this closely.

“Becoming a MAT will give us more control over the education of our children.

“The local picture is that more schools are becoming academies and we have been thinking carefully about when to convert.”

The Department for Education did not get back to the Oxford Mail with a comment.

Each school is meeting parents who should check schools websites for details.

School governors will look at replies and make a decision about joining the MAT.

THE CHANGING FACE OF EDUCATION

ACADEMIES are state-maintained but independently-run schools in England set up with the help of outside sponsors.

They can either be “converted” or “sponsored”.

There are 12 schools in the county that are currently sponsored and a further 44 schools which have converted to become academies.

Last year, Faringdon Community College became a MAT, and includes Faringdon Junior School, Faringdon Infant School and Buckland C of E Primary School.

A special school, to be sponsored by charity MacIntyre, is set to open on September 1.

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