What are the advantages in joining The Four Stones Multi Academy Trust?

We feel that three things are essential for school improvement: accountability, additional support and additional challenge. We believe there are quantifiable advantages of being in a MAT, for example:

  • sharing best practice, expertise and resources and raising standards across all key stages by working with local partner schools;
  • maintaining and developing a shared vision and ethos;
  • opportunities for students to share enrichment activities which might not be cost-effective for an individual school to offer;
  • opportunities for staff to benefit from working in a larger organisation with access to high quality training, personal development and career opportunities;
  • succession planning and retaining and developing staff, including at leadership level;
  • training our own new teachers through the Teaching School Alliance;
  • efficiencies and economies of scale through procurement and the provision or commissioning of services which may no longer be available from the Local Authority (LA). Funding for LAs has reduced over the last few years and support for schools from the LA is being steadily replaced by more collaborative and self-sufficient ways of working in schools.

How large could the MAT eventually be?

We anticipate that our MAT would grow in a planned, gradual and carefully considered way.  We do not want to become a huge, unwieldy organisation and we do want to stay local. It is likely that any schools who join us be no more than 45 minutes’ travel time away. The school can be in any local authority although we do want to stay within about 45 minutes’ travel of any school who joins us. There are no plans to develop the MAT at speed. Current expectations are that it could be a MAT of up to eight schools, possibly including some specialist provision but a priority is to ensure that the organisation grows at a rate which can be best managed so as to support member schools to maintain and improve performance. Initially we would expect secondary schools to join the MAT as that is where we have the expertise.

A rigorous evaluation of any school wishing to join us (“due diligence”) would be undertaken to identify any issues in the educational performance, financial position and conditions of buildings, to ensure that there are no significant liabilities which would be a drain on the resources of the MAT. If the Trustees feel that a school could be an appropriate partner, a plan would be developed to address any problems which are identified and we would only move forward with the school provided there is a robust and sustainable plan to support the school to address these issues. The final decision on whether a school can join our MAT is taken by the Regional Schools Commissioner at the DfE, and they will only allow a school to join a MAT if they are confident that the MAT can provide the required support to address a school in challenging circumstances or one with financial issues or liabilities.

How much responsibility would remain with each school?

This is for discussion and agreement between the Governors of each school who joins the MAT, the Members and the Trustees of the MAT and is set out in our Scheme of Delegation. Each school would have a Local Governing Body (LGB) which would be responsible for a number of areas within its own school. Each LGB would have Governors from a range of backgrounds and would continue to have both parent/carer and staff Governors. The MAT board of Trustees, which is the overarching body responsible for the whole MAT, would be responsible for strategic aspects, financial planning, strategic staff development and policies.

Would the school lose its individuality?

All schools in the MAT would maintain their individual ethos and distinctive features.