Will the school’s name change?
The Bishop controls the name of schools in his diocese and Bishop John requires school’s legal name to include the words: ‘Roman Catholic’ and ‘Voluntary Academy’ (e.g. St Basil’s RC Primary, a Voluntary Academy). There is no requirement or expectation that the Headteacher will be called ‘The Principal’. The school’s uniform would not need to change as a result of joining Romero CAT.
Will all schools have to have identical or similar structures?
There is no ‘template’ of staffing, curriculum, or teaching style. This will be a decision for the governing body and the headteacher. The school’s ethos and culture will be the responsibility of the governing body and the headteacher.
Trust has a vision and values document which all the schools must actively support. These values are based on Bishop John’s vision for education and are available on the Trust’s website.
How will the Trust be funded?
The Trust takes a management fee which provides for the Central Team. It also covers the legal team, administrative support, office space, and cost of the external audit. As the number of schools increase along with the management fee, additional support and services will be provided.
The management fee will only be taken from the money allocated to schools based on its pupil numbers (for academies, this is called the General Annual Grant or GAG). SEND, Pupil Premium, Sports Premium or any other grants awarded to schools are not part of the management fee and remain wholly with the school.
What happens to a school’s reserves?
All funding is the responsibility of the Trust however, schools will retain all their budget apart, from the management fee. Schools will not be responsible for the financial deficit in another school, although combined reserves could potentially be used to deliver a project on a ‘loan’ basis. The CFO will provide additional support to school business managers and provide additional assurance to the Board and the Accounting Officer that money is being used appropriately. As a Limited Company and Charity, the Trust must publish audited accounts each year.
Who is responsible for the running of the school?
The day to day running of schools remains with the headteacher with support and challenge from the governing body. The Trust is very clear that headteachers are responsible for their schools. Legal responsibility for the schools lie with the Headteacher and Board of Directors. However, through the scheme of delegation, key responsibilities are apportioned to the governors.
Who appoints staff to the school?
The Board is the employer of all staff in the schools. The appointment of senior posts, including the headteacher and deputy, will have the involvement of the Board, usually through the CEO, who works with the governors. The appointment of the key Catholic leadership posts (Headteacher, Deputy, Head of RE and Chaplain) will continue to have the involvement of the Diocese. For other appointments, the schools will be responsible using their own established scheme of delegation. The Trust will provide support with recruitment process, removing an administrative burden from schools.
What happened if the school’s performance is a cause for concern?
The Trust, through the CEO meets annually with the Regional Director to review the performance of all the schools in the Trust. There is an expectation that being part of an academy trust will improve schools’ performance. As is now the case, robust actions plans would be agreed and support and challenge for rapid improvement if required. The trigger for serious concern about a school from the Regional Director is primarily Ofsted judgements.
How will conversion affect Ofsted Inspections?
Academy schools are inspected in the same way as all schools. During inspection, the lead inspector will want to speak to the Chair of Governors and the Trust representatives. The CEO is also involved as part of the evidence gathering on the leadership and management of the school.
Schools that become academies are treated by Ofsted as new schools. Schools that are subject to directive Academy Orders will not be inspected for three years after conversion. Schools that become academies in the Trust, and were most recently judged good or outstanding, are treated as new schools for inspection purposes and are usually subject to an ungraded inspection (formally known as Section 8 inspection) as their first inspection; this will normally take place within three years of the school becoming an academy.
Section 48 Inspections/CSI will take place in Trust schools as they do now.
What terms and conditions will school staff working under in an academy trust?
Teachers and support staff remain under their current terms and conditions (ie Burgundy and Green Book) and The Trust follows current and future school teachers pay and conditions and national agreed public sector pay. Pensions remain unchanged as they are now and are underwritten by government. The main teacher and support staff unions are recognised and part of ongoing consultations on policy. Staff transfer to the Trust on the same conditions as their previous post and maintain their existing rights and benefits (this is known as TUPE).
Can the Trust change staff terms and conditions once the school converts?
The Trust is governed by a legal document called Articles of Association, as well as Diocesan Protocols, which cannot be changed by the Board of Directors or the CEO. They are the responsibility of the bishop and have to be followed by all Trusts in the Diocese.
Will staff be forced to move to other schools in difficulty?
Although staff are employed by the Trust, their contract will specify the school they are working in, they will not be forced to move to another school.
It is possible that a member of staff is a joint appointment, but this will be agreed in advance between the schools and the employee and be part of their contract.
Being within the Trust may allow staff opportunities for professional development in other schools and in so doing improve talent development and succession planning, but this will only be done with the agreement of all parties
What are the advantages of being in the Trust?
After conversion, the school will not be reliant on the local authority for support, instead the Trust will provide that support and challenge. Schools will be supported to work together to raise standards. There will also be access to a Trust-based Catholic Initial Teaching Training Hub which will provided trainee teachers, professional development courses and support for schools in the areas they need. The Trust can operate more flexibly and decisions taken more quickly using the CEO and the Central Team to react more quickly than is possible with a Local Authority.
As a part of a multi academy trust, schools can access capital funding more easily. This will be managed for schools by the CFO, working with school business managers. School improvement funds are increasingly directed thorough Multi Academy Trusts.
Will the school remain part of the Salford Diocese?
The Articles of Association and the Memorandum of Understanding make it clear that the school and the Trust remain within Salford Diocese (these documents are available on the Trust’s website). The Members of the Trust (which includes the Bishop) are also the Trustees of the Diocese. The schools joining the Trust will all be from the Catholic family of schools and have the commitment to the liturgical life of the school and the centrality of religious education. In relation to current governance structures for VA schools, joining a Catholic Academy Trust significantly strengthens the relationship between the school and the Diocese of Salford.
What is the timeline for conversion?
The timing of the process is determined by the governors although the Diocese and the Trust can provide support for this. There are several stages and consultation before any application is approved by the Diocese and the DfE. The Trust has a Growth and Development Lead who supports headteachers and school through the conversion process and leads on all the administration.