FAQs about Corvus Learning Trust

The Academy Executive Group made up of representatives from Edgbarrow, Hatch Ride Primary, Oaklands Infants and Oaklands Junior have been keeping track of questions raised regarding the Multi Academy Trust (MAT). This is a working document and will be updated during the course of the consultation as additional questions are raised.

Final questions following consultation

Are the charges from the LEA to convert from a maintained school to an Academy Trust one-off or annual?
One-off.

Will there be more funds available to the schools after joining the MAT?
The amount of money given to the schools from the government will be the same as today. The difference is that instead of a portion (Top Slice) going to the LA (Local Authority) before it reaches the school, the whole amount will go to the school. Each school will then pay a percentage back to the MAT to cover the MAT costs. The schools will have a little more money to spend and will have the freedom to shop around and source their own suppliers.

Will all the money come into the trust and the schools then have to apply to spend it?
No. The schools will be allocated their share of the money after the Trust has taken a percentage to pay for central costs. They will not have to apply for their own money. The schools will continue to plan their individual budgets and account for their money.

What are the options to replace the traded services we currently get from the LA?
Academies are able to shop around for the traded services that they decide to buy (eg behaviour support). They may choose to buy these from the LA which originally supplied them; alternatively, they are free to ‘shop around’ for the best deal.

Are there any traded services which are supplied by the LA which we will no longer be able to get when we are an academy?
No. We will still have access to opt into all the traded services we need but we may get a better deal by being able to shop around.

What is the responsibility of the MAT to ensure that a school does not exceed its budget and therefore require more money from the MAT to stay solvent?
The schools have demonstrated a track record of managing funds soundly and they will still retain the same responsibility for planning and agreeing school budgets as they have today. In addition, the MAT will be subject to annual audits (as opposed to every 3 years as an LA Maintained school) and financial reports need to be produced and filed with the DfE and Companies House. The CEO (Bob Elsey) is the accounting officer who makes sure each school is managing their budgets effectively along with the financial officer (Carolyn Pyke).

How does the current autonomy of each Headteacher change when we join the MAT?
The autonomy of the Headteacher will be unchanged.

What is the Trust’s vision?
The Corvus Learning Trust is a family of similar schools, initially from the local area, which has shared values and a common ethos and vision for education. We will work together in collaboration whilst retaining our individuality, to give every young person in our care the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

What is the benefit for the children?
This partnership will focus on improving outcomes for the benefit of all our children.
The transition for our children from primary to secondary school will be even smoother as the schools will work more and more closely as we get to know each other better.
Children will benefit from being schools that are judged as good or better, and which share an ethos of care and achievement for all our young people.
The strong reputation of the Trust and its schools will attract good, committed, hardworking staff.
By forming our own MAT, the schools take control of our own destiny and can make decisions that will benefit our children now and in the future.
Continued strong central leadership will underpin the financial security of all our schools, allowing increased efficiency and the best deployment of resources to support our children.

My child currently receives help through Pupil Premium/High Needs funding. Will this be affected by the conversion?
No. The schools will continue to receive the same amount of Pupil Premium and High Needs funding as they do at present, and these funds must be used, as now, to provide the most appropriate support to enable these students to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Additional questions mid-consultation

Will the admissions policy change?
Admissions into all the schools are currently managed by the Local Authority (Bracknell Forest for Edgbarrow and Wokingham for Hatch Ride, Oaklands Infant and Oaklands Junior), and the admissions criteria are set by the Local Authority and not by the schools.There are no plans to change either the designated area or admissions criteria for any of the schools on conversion.
If the Members of the Corvus Learning Trust want to consider changing the admission arrangements in the future they would be required to hold a consultation at least 18 months before the proposed changes were due to take effect.
All the schools will still be bound by the Schools Admission Code published by the DfE. There is no intention to introduce any form of selection at any of the Trust schools.

My child goes to one of the Trust primary schools. Does this mean they will automatically get a place at Edgbarrow?
No. As explained above, there are no plans to change either the designated area or the admissions policy of any of the Trust schools. This means that children who live in the designated area for Edgbarrow will continue to take priority over children who live outside the area regardless of which primary school they attend.

Are there any funding differences on becoming an Academy?
The amount of funding per pupil is exactly the same for an Academy as for a maintained school. For maintained schools, the funding is paid to the Local Authority, who retain some of it centrally to pay for services they provide. As an Academy, the funding will be paid in full to the Trust, but the schools within the Trust will need to buy some of the services currently provided by the Local Authority, and there will also be some new expenses, such as the annual audit required by company legislation. Overall, we anticipate that the financial impact will be cost neutral, and in time we expect to achieve economies of scale through providing services centrally and collaborative purchasing.
It will be up to the Headteacher and local Governing Body of each school to decide the most effective use of any additional funds generated from savings.

Original questions from the beginning of the consultation

What is a MAT?
A MAT is a group of schools which are part of an Academy Trust which has legal responsibility for all of them – including the staff, assets and land.

Why a MAT rather than stand alone?
The DFE is now encouraging MATs as this promotes collaboration and shared best practice. It also allows for economies of scale with regard to costs.

What is the MAT Name?
Corvus Learning Trust (CLT). Corvus is the Latin name for crow. This was selected as the Trust would be founded by schools in Crowthorne. The Trust would be registered at Companies House as a unique name.

How will the CLT be governed?

The CLT is set up as a charitable trust. The Trust will have 5 Members. These Members will meet once or twice a year and are responsible for holding the Trustees to account and ensuring that the Trust is working towards its objectives. The Trust will have 9 Trustees, this group is similar to the directors of a company and will run the governance of the MAT; they will focus on matters such as the strategic direction, standards and finance. Trustees will meet at least termly. The Trustees will also hold Local Governing Bodies (LGB) to account. The LGB is very similar to the current governing body, each school will have its own LGB and they will continue to hold their own schools to account and their duties and responsibilities will be the same as they are currently.

How will the consultation process work?
Hopefully, you feel that we have been keeping you informed since we first started to look at Academisation. We are now holding a formal consultation to provide information and a rationale, and to take feedback. The formal consultation period will last for 4 weeks from Friday 22nd September to Friday 20th October 2017. During this period we will be holding an open day at Edgbarrow School on Tuesday 3rd October between 10am and 4pm and evening meetings at Oaklands Junior School on Tuesday 10th October and Edgbarrow School on Thursday 12th October, both from 6.30 to 8.00pm.
You can also send any questions or comments in writing to [email protected]

Who will be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Corvus Trust?
Mr Elsey (Headteacher at Edgbarrow) will be the CEO. The CEO will lead the MAT and act as the link between schools, Trustees and Members.

What does being a ‘Member’ mean?
Academy Trusts have up to five Members. Members are unpaid and are responsible for appointing the Trustees, they are the guardians of the Trust’s constitution.

What does being a ‘Trustee’ mean?
The Trustees are appointed by Members and act as the critical friends for the Trust. Their key responsibilities are based on ensuring the quality of educational provision, challenging and monitoring performance, ensuring financial health and probity and support the Governors, Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and staff of schools. They also have specific duties as a result of being a charity Trustee and company director. The Trustees can delegate some of their duties to LGBs through a scheme of delegation. Other than the CEO all Trustees are unpaid.

So who are the Members?
We are looking to appoint 5 Members with a wealth of experience from education or the local Crowthorne community and who are known to the Headteachers or Governors of the founding schools. Please find below the names of the proposed Members:

  • Peter Floyd – Edgbarrow School Governor and retired senior manager with S.C. Johnson
  • Jeff Dawkins – Retired Secondary Headteacher from Windsor Boys School and currently national Director PiXL Leadership Programmes
  • Julian Thomas – Master of Wellington College
  • Marian Dickens - Retired solicitor who had a practice in Crowthorne
  • Sandra Symms – Retired Primary Headteacher from Finchampstead C of E

Each of the Members is known to at least one Member of the executive committee and the committee have fully discussed and approved the nominations.

And the Trustees?
Mr Elsey will be one of the Trustees as CEO. The other Trustees have been drawn from the Governing Bodies of founding schools or are known to a Headteacher. All of them have a particular skill set that is required. The names of the proposed Trustees are as follows:

  • Steve James (Strategic Leadership) – Retired Head of International Relations for UK Air Navigation Service Provider NATS
  • Sukina Carr (Finance) – Finance Manager with Fujitsu and Governor at Oaklands Infants School
  • Graham Oakley (Business) – Senior Branch Manager at Waitrose and Chair of Governors at Edgbarrow School
  • Sara Young (HR) – HR Business Partner at The John Lewis Partnership and current parent of two Edgbarrow students
  • Jason Welch (Strategic Leadership) – North Europe Service Director for General Electric and Chair of Governors at Hatch Ride Primary
  • David Whitfield (Asset Management) – Retired from a 40 year career in engineering, project management and IT services management and Governor at Oaklands Junior School
  • Iain Henderson (Secondary Education) – Deputy Headteacher – Wellington College
  • Joanna Nightingale (Primary Education) – Retired Headteacher - Whitehall Junior School
  • Bob Elsey (CEO) – Headteacher at Edgbarrow School

Which Schools are involved?
The Founding Schools are Edgbarrow, Hatch Ride Primary, Oaklands Infants and Oaklands Juniors

Will there be more schools?
Yes. To be a viable MAT the government suggests a number of approximately 5,000 students. The Founding schools will have a total of just over 2,000. The Trust will, therefore, need to grow over the next few years but we are in no hurry and will only take on schools providing this is not to the detriment of existing schools and we will only invite schools with a similar ethos.

Can you be forced to take other schools?
The DFE can ask and encourage but the final decision lies with the Trust.

Why are we moving away from the Local Authority?
The school has always enjoyed a very good working relationship with the Local Authority and will continue to do so. However, the Education system is changing. Three-quarters of Secondary Schools and a quarter of Primary schools are already academies. This means the scale of support from LAs has been reduced. Academies are able to source services from the best and most cost-effective suppliers, which may include the LA.

When are we planning to become a MAT?
We have set a target of 1st December 2017 although we can adjust as necessary. It will not, however, occur before 1st December and will be subject to the consultation and a final decision by school governing bodies.

What are the financial implications?
We anticipate the move to be financially neutral. A small percentage will be taken from the school’s budget and given to the MAT to provide services. This will be broadly in line with the amount that is top-sliced currently by the LA or paid to the LA for services.

Will the name of the school change?
No

Will school uniforms change?
No 

Have the school's completed due diligence?
Yes. The schools have shared their financial information with the executive committee; none of the founding schools is carrying a deficit or has any significant financial or non-financial outstanding liabilities. In addition, site surveys are being carried out and shared. All schools are rated as Good or better by Ofsted. The schools already work very closely with each other and know each other well.