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Academy status

Multi-Academy Trust Update

Growing our Multi Academy Trust (MAT)

Matthew Arnold School converted to academy status in August 2015 and it was always our stated intention to work collaboratively with other schools as a Multi-Academy Trust.  We are now in a position to create a group of schools in one Trust with the aim of continually improving the outcomes for our learners across all the schools. Our plan is to form a Multi-Academy Trust that will allow  each partner to retain their identity as a school and which facilitates the constant drive for improvement in the quality of educational experience for every student.

We have been in conversation with governing bodies and headteachers of a range of schools, starting with our closest primary partners in the West Oxford Schools Partnership (WOSP) to find partners with whom we can work to the benefit of all the children and students in our Multi Academy Trust (MAT).  As a result of those conversations, we have found three potential partners, who share our ethos and values, to begin to create our student-learning focused MAT.  

The schools are Chalgrove Community Primary School; Icknield Community College, Watlington  and Wood Green School, Witney.  Like us, these schools have carefully and cautiously considered how academisation will benefit their students and schools as a whole. The Headteachers of these schools have collaborated professionally for several years and the respective governing bodies have voted to formalise the schools working together. We are now exploring creating a Multi-Academy Trust that would potentially operate from December 2016 and be called the Acer Trust.

The aim of working together in a MAT is to develop our capacity to enable even better learning across our schools and to increase collective accountability, providing a sharp focus on the work that we do to ensure that all students are successful.

The process of creating a family of schools in the Trust will take some time and starts with consultation in each of the potential partner schools as they and their communities consider the conversion to academy status. At the end of the consultation period, all of the responses will be collated into a report which each Governing Body will consider. This report will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for Education who has the final say on whether schools can convert.

A key aspect of effective working in the Acer Trust is that individual schools will retain their individual ethos and will continue to be accountable locally to their own governing bodies.  We believe that common values and aims are important but it is equally important that each school continues to maintain its focus on serving its local community.  The greatest impact of being partners in the Trust will be through staff collaboration and professional learning which will lead to improvements in what we do day-to-day in our schools.  Children, students and families will still recognise their own schools, which will continue to improve over time.  The driver for all of us is better outcomes for every young person educated in an Acer Trust school.

Further contextual information about the MAT plans

Why is the Trust planning to grow?

When Matthew Arnold School converted to academy status, we chose to set up a multi-academy trust because, “it it gives us the opportunity to work in closer partnership with schools in our locality”*. The Academy Trust is the company to which the school is accountable for its educational performance and financial management now that we are no longer a Local Authority Maintained School.
 

Why is Matthew Arnold School planning to work with new partner schools?

When we consulted about the conversion to academy status,  we had recently formalised our collaboration within West Oxford Schools Partnership, working with our six partner Primary Schools and we also had a long-standing partnership with the secondary schools of OCL, Oxford City Learning.  This partnership included wider partnership working through the Oxford Education Deanery, which enables members of staff to engage in educational research.  As a school we have long been committed to partnership working which benefits our students by improving the way that the school is run.  In 2014, we saw that, “becoming an academy enables us to explore models of collaboration with our partners that will benefit all our students”*.  Currently the partnerships we have locally are providing for the collaborative needs of the partner schools.  Over time, it is possible that some of the local partners may want to become Acer Trust partners.
 

What has happened to the Local Authority?

The education system in Oxfordshire is increasingly becoming an academy-led system, in line with Government policy.  In our 2014 consultation we noted that, “with the Local Authority having a significantly reduced role, it is up to schools and the staff in them to work together to make sure that every student is given the best quality of education, suited to their needs, that we can offer in their local schools. It is also the role of schools to ensure local accountability for ensuring that we maintain the highest standards for all and that we constantly strive to improve those standards.”*
*(Quotes taken from the MAS consultation document, September 2014).

What do we know about the proposed Acer Trust partners?
It has always been our intention to create a cross-phase MAT, incorporating both primary and secondary schools.  The first group of schools planning to form the MAT are all good schools, aspiring to become outstanding as a result of collaborative support and challenge across the Trust.

Chalgrove Community Primary School

www.chalgrove.oxon.sch.uk

CCPS is a 3-11 primary school in the village of Chalgrove, in the south-east of Oxfordshire, with approx. 200 pupils on roll. Through the leadership of the headteacher, Julie Quarrell, the school has improved rapidly and was rated as good by Ofsted in June 2012.

Icknield Community College

www.icknield.oxon.sch.uk

ICC is an 11-16 comprehensive school in the village of Watlington, in the south-east of Oxfordshire, with approx. 620 pupils on roll. Through the leadership of the headteacher, Mat Hunter, the school has improved rapidly since 2011. The school, which previously ‘required improvement’ was rated as good (with a number of outstanding features) by Ofsted in March 2015.

Matthew Arnold School

www.maschool.org.uk

MAS is an 11-18 school in the west of the City of Oxford, with approx. 1100 pupils on roll. The school has been rated by Ofsted as good with several outstanding features consistently for the last decade. The school has continued to improve over the past years under the leadership of the headteacher, Katherine Ryan, and all students progress very well in their time at the school.

Wood Green School

www.wgswitney.org.uk

WGS is an 11-18 comprehensive school in West Oxfordshire with approx. 980 pupils on role. Through the leadership of Headteacher, Rob Shadbolt, the school has made rapid improvement having needed “special measures” and has been judged to be good in every category inspected by Ofsted (July 2015). The majority of students choose to stay in the excellent Sixth Form.

If you have comments or questions about the planned growth of the multi-academy trust that are not addressed in this update, please email academyquestions@maschool.org.uk by the end of June 2016.

Katherine Ryan,

Headteacher

Academy Conversion Update September 2015

Following the governing body's decision last year to become an academy, the Headteacher, governors and members of the Leadership Team have worked together during the course of the year to ensure that our conversion to academy status is beneficial to the school and to our community. On 1 August 2015, Matthew Arnold School became a converter academy.

The significant change is that the responsibility for the school has transferred from Oxfordshire County Council to WOST (West Oxford Schools Trust). The Trust Board consists of five existing members of the school's governing body, including the Headteacher. The school still has its own governing body which ensures that the school has a clear ethos and strategic direction, holds the Headteacher and team to account for the school's educational performance and oversees the school's financial management. The Trust Board has delegated all the governance responsibilities to the governing body; all members of the governing body were governors before the school converted.

Apart from the legal change in school status there will be no changes to the way we run the school. The ethos of the school and our desire for everyone to succeed remains constant and we will continue to strive to achieve our aim of unlocking every individual's potential. To achieve this we will continue to offer great teaching and a range of opportunities for learning. We will continue provide a safe, supportive yet challenging environment in which students can flourish: enjoying their learning and developing the skills they will need to be independent thinkers and successful, responsible adults.

In answer to some of the questions that the students have asked, there will be no change to the school's name and no change to uniform. Everything from a student or parent perspective will be as it was before the conversion; we are the same school.

Katherine Ryan
Headteacher

If you have comments or questions about the school becoming an academy that are not addressed in our letter, please email academyquestions@maschool.org.uk by the end of September.

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