And finally...

I wrote to you recently about Governors' considerations on whether we should convert to an Academy as part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and that we had found that we were the last high school in Salford to make the decision to join a MAT.

Governors have approached seven Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) and are now entering more detailed conversations and discussions with two of these Trusts. We will have a Parents' Information Evening as the process progresses.


What would joining a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) mean for us?

ADVANTAGES

We want to work with other schools on a formal basis to share good practice and find ways to improve our school. By working with partner schools in a MAT, we can build capacity to be able to provide support for other schools and find support ourselves. Being in a MAT would allow us to work much more closely with the staff in all the schools so that teaching and behaviour continued to improve. We have a huge amount of change ahead of us as a result of new GCSEs and a more challenging Key Stage 3 and we believe that being part of a MAT can help us share expertise more easily leading to improvement for our pupils.

We would be able to take advantage of economies of scale when buying in services ? increasingly important with tightening budgets. The money saved would be put back into ensuring that our resources, including staffing, are the best that they can be.

We would benefit from members of staff employed by the MAT who are focused solely on improving the schools in the MAT. For example, if we wanted to appoint a school improvement officer, we could do this with the other schools in the MAT so that we all contribute to the cost. We would not be able to afford this as a standalone school.

We would have access to the expertise that existed in all of the schools in trust, including the Governing Bodies


CONCERNS

Isn't this the privatisation of education?

Our school will still be funded by tax payers' money and will still serve this community. Pupils will not have to pay for their education and the land and buildings will be held in trust for this sole purpose.

There's no way of holding the Trust to account. I can vote my councillor out if I'm unhappy with education.

The performance of the Trust is scrutinised by the Regional Schools' Commissioner and Ofsted. If either or both of these organisations think that the Trust is not doing a good enough job then the school can be placed with a MAT that has a better track record of improving schools.

Aren't there horror stories of senior staff at MATs embezzling large sums of money or giving contracts to their family members?

There are rare stories of this sort about some MATs. There are also rare stories of this sort about some schools that have been in Local Authority control. Nearly all schools in Local Authorities and in MATs are run honestly and in the interests of the pupils.


What will it mean for us?

The Governors and senior leaders of Walkden High School are always seeking ways in which to make the school even better. We have a very stable Senior Leadership Team and Governing Board. We believe that this decision is a way of improving our school and staying in control of our ethos and culture.

Our aim is that students, parents and staff should not see any adverse changes. The revenue we hope to save through economies of scale will, however, benefit students, as will the opportunity to work with other schools. The changes will be to the way the school is governed. The school will retain its own Governing Board. At the moment, this is held to account by the Local Authority. The change will mean that it is a Multi Academy Trust that holds the Governing Board to account. The Trust will oversee the achievements of any schools in the Trust, and they will step in if they deem it to be necessary to bring about improvements for pupils.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Academy?

An Academy is essentially an independent school which is funded by the state. It is independent of the Local Authority and receives its funding directly from central government.

Will my child continue to be taught by Walkden High School teachers?

Yes. All of our existing staff will transfer over to the MAT. Apart from the usual staff turnover pupils would not notice any difference in the classroom. We hope that this status will enable us to retain staff who might otherwise look elsewhere for promotion ? there will hopefully be opportunities for our staff to spend time supporting colleagues in other schools in the Trust.

Who will decide on the curriculum?

As now, the Governors and senior leadership of Walkden High School will set and monitor the curriculum. We would want our Trust to give us advice on how we can improve GCSE outcomes for our pupils.

Will the Behaviour Policy or uniform change?

Our Governing Body and senior leadership always keep these things under review but we would want to continue to do so independently? We are looking for a MAT that allows us to continue with our ethos and values.

Will the Admissions arrangements change?

This is not something Governors are looking for in a MAT.

If my child sees no difference, what’s the point in making this change?

As far as students are concerned, everything will stay the same. However, we may have more money to spend on them at a time when school budgets are under strain. They will also benefit from their teachers having access to extra support and training, and from teachers being able to find promoted posts within the Trust.

What will happen if we do nothing?

Increasingly, schools are being encouraged to work together. In many Local Authorities, there are a number of multi academy trusts and there are already 5 operating in Salford. Worryingly, however, there are big ”chains” that are looking for schools to join their Trusts. These chains are not always successful and they certainly don?t understand the local context in the way that we do. We want to avoid being forced to join one of these chains because of pressure from the Regional Schools' Commissioner or the Department for Education. This way, we stay in control of our own destiny.

simon-lennox-signature.jpg

Mr SLennox
Headteacher

Latest News

Volume 06, Issue 33 of the Walkden Weekly

Look what's in our newsletter this week. If the newsletter doesn't appear below please either: Click here to visit the web …


And finally

We've had an amazing week. So many different experiences and events. We've had our first whole school sponsored walk and I kno…


NEW YORK 2017

Due to an earlier flight this year,we had lots of time when we arrived at Newark Airport in New York.Much to Mrs Dawson's deli…


Events

Key Information