The Governors of Sherborne CofE Primary School are exploring the possibility of the school becoming an academy and joining a multi-academy trust (MAT). As part of this process, all interested parties will be consulted with and invited to raise any questions they may wish to ask. Below is a summary of the consultation process the school is undertaking:

1. The Consultation

1.1 What are we consulting on?

We would like to hear your views on our proposal to become a local Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). We encourage anyone interested in this issue to share their comments through our consultation form. The consultation will run from 13th June 2023 – 14th July 2023. We would also welcome feedback on how we are carrying out this consultation. Please use the consultation form to give this feedback.

1.2 Why are we consulting?

We value your views on our proposal and are asking our community to check our work and to let us know whether there is anything we have not considered. There is also a legal requirement for us to consult on becoming a local MAT.

1.3 Why are we consulting now?

We believe that becoming a local MAT is the best way to protect and improve our schools, and those are urgent priorities for us. We are consulting now to engage as many people as possible within our community.

1.4 How long is the consultation period?

We are consulting from 13th June 2023 – 14th July 2023.

1.5 Who is the consultation for?

The consultation is open to everyone, and we hope that families, staff, students, community partners, other local schools and our wider local community will take the time to give us their views.

1.6 How can I take part in the consultation?

The main way to tell us your views is by attending the consultation meetings, either in person or online, a feedback form is also available on paper from the schools’ offices. We have arranged meetings for staff and parents and will communicate details to these groups directly.

1.7 Will we be holding a ballot of parents or staff?

No. The decision whether or not to apply to become a local MAT is one the Governing Board will take, once it has received the views of the community in this consultation process. That’s why we’d really appreciate detailed feedback. We also think referendums tend to create more problems than solutions, particularly around turnout and legitimacy.
Governors have three statutory duties: to ensure the long-term strategic direction of the schools, to hold the executive leaders to account and to oversee the financial performance. We do not believe that setting long-term strategy is compatible with a snapshot of one group of stakeholders’ opinion at one particular time.

A corresponding example might be a local authority’s approach to consulting on plans to introduce residents’ parking permits throughout the borough. The local authority may have a very persuasive long-term rationale for its plans and may hold a consultation to get valuable local feedback which may affect its final plans and decision, but it’s unlikely to offer a binding ballot as a ballot is liable to provide a short-term response to a long-term problem.
Similarly, we haven’t included a tick box “do you support the proposal” question in our feedback form because we want substantive responses to inform the development of our plans and our ultimate decision. We are attempting to review questions weekly so that we can have a meaningful dialogue throughout the consultation period.

1.8 How will we report on the consultation and the Governing Board’s decision?

We will publish a report on our website as soon as possible after the consultation has closed. The report will summarise the views expressed across the community and include our response to the comments raised, together with our final decision.

2. The proposal

2.1 What is a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)?

A MAT is a group of state-funded schools run under a single governing board and funded directly by the Department for Education. At the moment, we are a Voluntary Controlled School, which is a school run under a single governing board where our funding comes via the local authority.

2.2 Why do we want to become a MAT?

As a Governing Board, our duty is to protect and improve the education our schools offer local children and young people. We believe that becoming a local MAT is the best way to protect and improve our schools. Collaboration has played an important role in protecting and improving the quality of education across our schools. As a local MAT, our aim would be to build on our proven model of collaboration and extend our positive local impact by having a few other primaries in our group of schools. By sharing resources, ideas and solutions, we can further improve our schools. Becoming a local MAT, with a careful strategy of steady, incremental and local growth, offers the best route to do this.
We’d also like to be able to take advantage of new opportunities for funding and improvement offered by the Department for Education, but they tend only to make these available to MATs.