Any school considering exploring options for academisation must contact Mark Davis, DDE before talking to potential trust.  [email protected]

Context

Legislation

Schools seeking an academy order from the Secretary of State for Education require consent of;

  1. The trustees holding the school land
  2. The party or persons appointing foundation governors

(from clause 3(4) of the Academies Act 2010)

The DfE require applicants to evidence that these parties have consented to conversion.

Lichfield Diocesan Board of Education

The Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) is the diocesan authority for all schools designated as having a Church of England religious character within the diocese.

Relevant to the legislation above, LDBE appoints foundation governors to all schools and is trustee for some school sites and therefore its consent is required for conversion to academy status on one or both accounts. It will usually liaise with the site trustees when an application for academy conversion is received.

The Lichfield Diocesan Board of Education has developed a school organisation strategy taking into consideration the national educational landscape. The vision of the LDBE is that all children in Church of England schools within the Diocese of Lichfield, should be in a family of schools, within the wider diocese family.

The strong preference of the LDBE is that growth in the academy sector is within the identified academies who hold a majority Church articles model, we are aware of exceptional circumstances that may arise when another solution needs to be found. Where a school needs to convert to a MAT, because of OFSTED categorisation or school improvement needs and there is not a suitable majority articles MAT to accept the school, the LDBE may allow the conversion of a Voluntary Controlled school or former Voluntary Controlled school into a suitable, existing, sustainable minority articles MAT.

Before talking to potential trusts, schools should arrange to meet the Director of Education to discuss the trusts available and recommendations on schools to partner with in the process. A meeting with the Director of Education will be a pre-requirement to new conversions being presented to the board from January 2024.

The DBE Committee require the completion of the following documents in order to consider a request to join an Multi Academy Trust.

Policy

A full copy of the Diocesan strategy for school development can be downloaded in pdf form.

Strategy for School Development

Required Documentation

Consent is on the basis of the model Church of England legal documents;

and a Members’ Agreement, which is independent of the suite of DfE model documents and is between the diocese and the members of the academy trust alone.

The DBE Committee require the completion of the following documents in order to consider a request to join an Multi Academy Trust.

LDBE Multi Academy Trust Overview (2023)

LDBE School Application to Join a MAT (2023)

 

Questions to Consider

We have put together some areas you might like to discuss with a Trust in order to inform your decision:

  • Have any schools been inspected since the trust was formed? What were the gradings and do they show trust impact? Dito with SIAMs inspections.
  • Get the trusts last audited accounts from companies house. Perhaps a governor with finance experience could look at them and ask some questions. A few highlights to ask – is GAG pooled? What happens to school reserves? What are the things you are allowed to spend reserves on? Do the accounts show a secure and healthy position?
  • Look at the trustees and members. Have you got confidence in them? How do you know? Ask for some more information if you need it.
  • Check the trust website for numbers of employees paid more than £100k (legal requirement to show it). Are you happy with this? If it raises some questions, ask them.
  • Have you viewed and checked the trust scheme of delegation? Again, are you satisfied with this?
  • we highly recommend, if you haven’t done so, your head talking to some heads, alone. Head to head. And then you doing the same with some SBMs and the chair of govs doing the same. Consider if you choose or the trust chooses.
  • You might want to consider the trust data profile and asking about school improvement linked to this.Make sure you know the accountability structure and quality assurance processes.