The Governing Body of Howden Le Wear Primary School is considering becoming a member of the Advance Learning Partnership (ALP) Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).
This is a big decision for our school and we are consulting with our parents, carers, pupils, staff, trade unions and the local community on these proposals. Consultation began on Friday 17 September 2021, for a period of five school term weeks and will end at 1pm on Friday 22 October 2021.
As part of the consultation, parents and community members are invited to a meeting on Monday 27 September at 2.30pm in the school hall where they will be able to learn more about the proposals and ask any questions they have.
Our Governing Body would very much like to hear your opinion and would encourage you to respond to the consultation by completing the Feedback Form via the link:
Please complete and submit the form by the deadline of 1pm on Friday 22nd October 2021.
Further information and Frequently Asked Questions
Wider information on the Academies programme is available on the Department for Education website
Below we have put together some frequently asked questions about Multi Academy Trusts and what joining Advance Learning Partnership will mean for our school. As questions are raised throughout the consultation process, answers will be added to this page.
What is an Academy?
Being an academy means we remain a state school, funded directly from central government, but no longer directly under the control of the Local Authority. Academy status, we feel, gives us more freedom to be innovative and creative with the curriculum, timetabling, staffing and governance. We would continued to be inspected by Ofsted and comply with the same rules as other schools on, for example, Special Educational Needs. There are now over 12,000 academies in the country, including many schools in the North East of England and in County Durham. As an academy we would be part of a Multi Academy Trust and academies are rightly expected to work with and support other schools.
What is a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)?
A MAT is formed when two or more academies legally come together in partnership. It is possible for other schools and academies to join the Trust in the future, and for our school, we would be joining the Advance Learning Partnership MAT at a point where there are currently six other schools within the Trust. The partnership ensures that the schools can share skills and best practice and make optimum use of resources ensuring best value for money for each school.
How will the children benefit?
In joining a MAT we envisage that in many ways the children will not notice any immediate difference, they will be in the same uniform, in the same classrooms with the same teaching staff. However, in time the children will perhaps notice changes and improvements in the way that they learn for example and have greater links with other schools within the Trust.
How would this proposal benefit our school?
Governors have taken the time to select what they feel is the best Multi Academy Trust to assist the school with its improvement programme. The Advance Learning Partnership has a similar ethos to our own school and like us, they value and want the best for every child. Their schools are close enough geographically to allow teachers to share training opportunities and our main secondary feeder schools, Wolsingham School and Parkside Academy, are also part of ALP.
How will we benefit from working with other schools?
Our school already has strong partnerships with other local schools who are already part of ALP. Joining ALP will allow us to continue the strong and established partnerships we already have, help us develop new relationships with schools who may join ALP in the future, provide better opportunities for our learners and help us save money by benefiting from economies of scale.
What will be the impact on staff?
Currently, staff in school are employed by Durham County Council. After conversion, all staff will be employed by ALP. Staff are legally protected to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions, including pensions. Staff will be provided with further information on how they are affected as part of the conversion process. Being part of the MAT will also provide greater opportunities for career progression and development.
How will the Trust and the school be run?
ALP have a highly skilled Board of Trustees, approved by the Department for Education, made up of people with particular skills and expertise to help it run efficiently, effectively and compliantly. Although the Board would have a number of legal and regulatory powers it would delegate many of its powers to the Local Academy Council (formally the Governing Body).
Our school will have a Local Academy Council which will continue to ensure that the needs of each school are monitored closely. Our Local Academy Council would continue to have a mixture of representatives from parents, staff and members of the local community. The Headteacher would still be responsible for running their own school and would work closely with the ALP Executive Team and support staff, as well as working with other ALP Headteachers to develop plans for school improvement, partnership working and collaboration.
Would the school have to change its name or uniform?
No, there are no plans to change the school name or uniform.
Will the times of the school day and holidays change?
We have no plans to change the times of the school day or the term dates. All current ALP schools follow the term dates set out by Durham County Council. Any future changes to term dates or school day timings would be subject to extensive consultation with parents and carers.
What is the process to become a member of Advance Learning Partnership MAT?
During the summer term, the proposed partnership between Howden le Wear Primary School and Advance Learning Partnership was given approval to proceed by the Department for Education. We now enter a period of consultation and due diligence, taking the views of all stakeholders into consideration and exploring in greater detail, whether the partnership is viable for both parties. If, at the end of this process, both parties still agree that the partnership is viable, the legal joining process would be completed to formalise the relationship. At this stage we believe the process could be concluded in the first half of the spring term 2022.
Thank you for taking the time to read this documentation and should you require any further information, please feel free to contact school via the usual channels.