THREE Wantage schools are hoping to join forces to improve teaching.
King Alfred’s Academy wants to take Charlton Primary School and Wantage Church of England Primary School under its wing to form one of Oxfordshire’s first multi-academy trusts (MAT).
The move would enable the three schools to share ‘back office’ services, including premises.
It would also enable the schools to spend more efficiently by sharing contracts on transport, legal advice and finance support.
King Alfred’s headteacher Simon Spiers said the move was about freeing up headteachers to focus on education.
He said: “We never want a situation where a governing body gets involved in day-to-day running of the schools.
“It is very important to understand that each school would still maintain its identity, ethos, headteacher, and in the case of Wantage C of E, its faith element.”
He did not foresee any redundancies as a result of the move.
King Alfred’s Academy, in Portway, has just under 1,900 pupils, Charlton Primary, in Charlton Village Road, has 317 and Wantage Church of England Primary School, in Newbury Street, has 446.
The academy was approached independently by the primary schools who were both interested in forming a MAT.
Wantage Church of England Primary School headteacher Phil Hibbs is excited by the move.
He said: “I am pleased to be able to work in closer partnership with my colleagues in Charlton and King Alfred’s.
“I believe we will be in a better position to drive up standards and improve the learning opportunities for our children and young people in the future.”
Charlton Primary headteacher Jenny de la Coze added: “We are in exciting times and I look forward to the possibilities ahead.”
The MAT status is expected to involve the creation of a board of directors made up of governors from all three schools.
The board would oversee staffing, finance and resources, releasing headteachers to focus on education.
County councillor for Wantage and Grove, Zoe Patrick, is also a governor at Charlton Primary.
She said: “King Alfred’s is self-sufficient and it is about getting the support from them.
“But, if the parents come back and say they don’t want the change, then we will have to listen to them.”
County councillor Jenny Hannaby is chairman of governors at Stockham Park Primary, which is not an academy.
She praised the governors of King Alfred’s for the school’s transition to an academy, but added that Stockham primary would not be rushing into any changes itself.
A final decision about how each school is funded will be made in agreement with the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.
Consultation on the MAT status comes to an end on February 4, after which governors will discuss feedback received.
A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is a collaboration between two or more schools.
Within a MAT, all academies are governed by one trust, known as the members, and a board of directors, called the governors.
The MAT holds ultimate responsibility for all decisions regarding the running of the individual academies, from setting the curriculum to staffing.
Governors are mainly appointed by the trust members, plus a staff governor, who may be the principal of one of the schools, a minimum of two parent governors and the chairman of each local governing body.