Frequently Asked questions
What is an Academy?
Academies are state-funded independent local schools that aim to provide a free, first-class education for pupils of all abilities through a fresh approach to school leadership, teaching and learning. They offer a full, broad and balanced curriculum.
What is a multi-academy trust?
A multi-academy trust (MAT) is where a number of schools are governed by a single Trust and Board of Trustees – there is only one legal entity accountable for all academies within the Trust. The Trust has a Master Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State and each academy will also then have a Supplemental Funding Agreement. Each of the academies in the Trust has its own Local Governing Board (Local Academy Council) which deals with the governance of the academy. The Trust is accountable for all academies in the Trust.
Who are the staff in Rainbow Education Multi-Academy Trust?
Our Trust has a Core Team comprising of:
• Gina Donaldson – Chief Executive Officer - an experienced Headteacher with a proven track record of leadership and school improvement.
• James Ray – Chief Finance and Operations Officer – extensive experience of financial management, having worked for over twenty years in the industry across a range of sectors, including a local authority and a large Merseyside charity.
Our Core Team is supported by a wealth of experience by both our Central Team and Executive Team, which include, HR Support, Finance Officer, Support Officer, Media and Marketing Support, Compliance and Estates Support, Curriculum and Data Support and Governance Support.
Are you recognised by the Trade Unions?
We have worked with the Trade Unions to sign a Joint Consultation and Negotiation Agreement between the Trust and with the Unions across Merseyside.
What are the main responsibilities of the multi-academy trust once the school has converted?
Typical activities include:
• Setting a strategic direction for achievement and improvement;
• Ensuring that the right infrastructure is in place to support leadership and management;
• Providing support, challenge and guidance linked to progress in all areas of the academies operations;
• Being responsible for the performance of the academy, including monitoring and where necessary establishing plans of action for support to improve performance;
• Setting up committees with a specific focus on monitoring aspects of academy life;
• Leading involvement with parents and the wider community, to promote the academy and support community regeneration; Ensuring value for money and good use of public funds, and leveraging in other finance and resources when needed; and
• Championing the academy in the wider community in order to bring new resources to the academy, for example through holding events, and arranging mentoring and building links with business.
What will the responsibilities be of the Local Governing Board (Local Academy Council)?
Our Trust enters into a funding agreement with the Secretary of State for the running of the Academy. Our Trust would then have a strategic role in running the Academy and would work with the school leadership team to appoint the governors to the Local Academy Council. The Local Academy Council will manage the school on behalf of the Trustees.
What is the make-up of our existing Local Academy Councils?
The Local Academy Council will be appointed by the Trust in agreement with the existing governors and school leaders. The process for governor elections is set out in our Articles of Association and agreed between our Trust and the Secretary of State. Our Local Academy Councils comprise:
• Chair, where appropriately appointed by the Trust;
• Staff Governors appointed by election;
• Parent Governors appointed by election;
• Community Governors appointed by the school; and
• Headteacher and Head of School where applicable
Will the governors stay the same?
Technically the school’s governing body ceases to exist at midnight on the day before transfer. We will hold early discussions with the schools’ governing bodies to transition them to the new Local Academy Councils that start on the day of transfer. It may be that some governors choose not to transfer across but that will be their choice.
Will the school still be inspected by Ofsted?
Yes. Academies are inspected by Ofsted using the same framework and timescales as for maintained schools.
How is funding to academies that are part of Multi Academy Trusts calculated?
Funding to the academies within multi academy trusts is allocated on an individual academy basis, based on pupil numbers. Funding is governed through a master funding agreement between the Secretary of State and the Trust and a supplemental agreement between the Secretary of State and each academy within the Trust. Funding then flows from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to the Academies.
How is academy funding calculated?
The General Annual Grant (GAG) funding for an academy is based on the level of local authority funding that would be calculated for any maintained school. This funding is based on nationally agreed funding formulae.
Do academies get more money than local authority schools?
Academies receive the same level of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the local authority as a maintained school plus additions to cover the services that are no longer provided for them by the local authority. Academies however do have greater freedom on how they use their budgets, alongside the other freedoms that they enjoy.
Will schools be forced to buy in expensive services?
No. Schools are not forced to buy in any type of service by particular providers. The experience of academies to date is that they can buy in services more effectively for themselves which leads either to better quality or lower prices meaning they can make savings and re-invest money elsewhere. They are free to buy back the services from the local authority or find them elsewhere.
All academies are required to take out insurance and have arrangements in place to help academies secure best value for money.
All academies must abide by the rules and regulations laid out in the Academy Trust Handbook - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/academy-trust-handbook. This sets out the financial management, control and reporting requirements with which academy trusts must comply and requires academies to follow public procurement regulations and therefore have a procurement policy. A key aspect of this is that academies are required to make decisions that are in the public interest, and to submit to accountability through openness and transparency.
What happens if there is a capital emergency at the academy? Would it have to cover costs?
Academies are eligible to seek an earmarked annual grant from the ESFA for emergencies, in the same way the local authority can pay a maintained school a contingency payment. Academies are required to take out insurance at specified minimum levels of cover to protect against potential capital emergencies.
What support is available to schools if they get into financial difficulty?
Academies, like all schools, are expected to maintain strict budgetary controls and are required by their funding agreement to balance their budgets. The Education and Skills Funding Agency monitors academies’ financial position on behalf of the Secretary of State, and if a deficit occurs or appears likely, will intervene. It will provide advice and support to the academy to find an appropriate solution to bring costs and income back into balance, usually in the form of a restructuring plan, and will give additional contingency funding if absolutely necessary.
Staff / TUPE / Transferring to a new employer
Who will I be employed by?
The conversion to Academy status within the Rainbow Education Multi-Academy Trust would mean your new employer is the Rainbow Education Multi-Academy Trust.
What is a TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) Transfer?
This is where either part or all of an organisation’s process and staff are transferred over to a new employer. What does TUPE stand for? Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. It is covered by Regulations that were updated on the 31st January 2014. All employee transfers are covered under TUPE, a recent change however states that “Organisations with fewer than 10 employees are not required to invite the election of representatives for consultation purposes if no existing arrangements are in place.”
What happens to my terms and conditions?
Under TUPE regulations you will maintain the terms and conditions you currently have unless the new employer is offering new terms and conditions and they are more favourable, in which case you can elect to be employed under their terms and conditions.
Can I be dismissed because of the Transfer?
No, you cannot be dismissed as you are protected under TUPE Transfer rules. Any dismissal that is connected to the transfer would be automatically treated as “unfair”.
What happens if I don’t want to Transfer to the new Employer?
If you do not want to transfer, you can request redeployment (depending on the size of the size of your current employer’s organisation). The only other alternative is to resign.
What happens to my pension?
All pension rights accrued under the former employer are protected. In some case the new employer will continue to contribute to this scheme. Future pension rights after the date of transfer are excluded from the TUPE Regulations. Pensions are run by completely independent bodies and our Trust has to become a scheme employer under the scheme. Under the Academies Act 2010 our Trust has to offer you the opportunity to be a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme or the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. If you presently “opt-out” of paying contributions to either scheme under the government’s autoenrolment regulations, you will be registered by the Trust with whichever scheme is relevant – you can still “opt-out” but you will have to sign a form to say that is what you want to do. This also happens every three years for all employees no matter who your employer is.
Will my trade union be recognised?
Any trade union recognition will transfer across to the new employer. The trade union will get agreement from the new employer that recognition will continue. What happens to my trade union subs? If you currently pay your subscriptions through your payroll, then this should continue.
What happens to my personnel record?
This will be transferred across with you to our Trust as your new employer. It is advisable therefore, to ask to see your personnel file to ensure that there is no information retained that is spent. This information has to be provided to the new employer at least 28 days before the transfer
Can the Trust change my terms and conditions?
No, currently your terms and conditions are protected. They can be renegotiated provided that overall the contract is no less favourable to the employee, your trade union will be consulted during any changes to terms and conditions.
What happens to collective agreements (Teacher Union and support staff Union Agreements) that I currently benefit from?
Recent changes to the TUPE Regulations for any transfers on or after 31st January 2014 do not bind the new organisation to adhere to these collective agreements i.e. pay increases. Collective Agreements of employees transferred before this date are protected.
Will we still be eligible to make discretionary or special leave requests?
Staff at schools within our Trust apply for leave to their line manager / Headteacher and this would then be presented to our CEO to ensure that all staff are treated equitably across our Trust.
Myth Busters about Multi Academy Trusts
What are School Trusts?
Academy trusts are education charities that run schools to give children a better future. Our Trust is a group of schools working in collaboration as one entity to improve and maintain high educational standards across the group. Our Trust has a single legal and moral purpose: to advance education for the public benefit. Our Trust is an education charity, with trust leaders and trustees. People who hold trust on behalf of children.
Academy trusts are not businesses – nor are they run by ‘private’ people
Academy trusts are education charities that are set up purely for the purpose of running and improving schools. Trustees have strict duties under charity law and company law. Trustees hold public office – they do not run the Trust for ‘private’ interest but are required to advance education for public benefit. They are required to uphold the Principles of Public Life.
Sponsors, Trustees and/or Members cannot make profits
As education charities, academy trusts are not allowed to make profits or distribute profits to trustees or members. All outturns are invested into the front-line to improve the quality of education.
Academy trusts are highly accountable
Academy trusts are held to account to a higher standard than maintained schools. The obligation of transparency and accountability is much greater than maintained schools. They are held to account by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Ofsted and Regional Schools Commissioners. They are required to have an independent audit annually and to publish their accounts. They are also required to disclose pay in thresholds. If the ESFA investigates a Trust, the investigation report is published on the government’s website. There is no similar requirement on local authorities to publish investigation reports or disclose head teacher pay.
Academy trusts are part of state-funded education
Like any other state school, academies are free to attend, inspected in the same way, and children take the same tests and exam. Academy trusts are state-funded – parents do not pay fees. They operate in accordance with their funding agreement with the Secretary of State. More than half of pupils in England – 3.8 million pupils – are educated in academy schools. This is seven in ten secondary pupils and three in ten primary pupils.
Land is not passed into ‘private’ ownership and trusts need permission to sell land – just like maintained schools
Academy trusts can have various tenure types, but most hold their sites on long leases from the local authority, for a nominal charge. There are controls on the disposal of academy and maintained school publicly funded land. The Secretary of State’s permission is required for the disposal of publicly funded school land or school land which has been enhanced at public expense.
Academy trusts have the same legal responsibilities as maintained schools towards children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Academy trusts are subject to most of the same direct statutory duties as maintained mainstream schools, in respect of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
As such, mainstream academies must:
• Have regard to the statutory SEND Code of Practice
• Use their best endeavours to make sure a child with SEN gets the support they need
• Designate a qualified teacher to be the SENCO
• Co-operate with the local authority in respect of the child • Admit a child where the school is named on that child’s Education, Health and Care plan
• Ensure that children, young people and their families are involved in decision-making and planning.
• Academy trusts must comply with the same law on admissions as maintained schools
• The DfE’s model funding agreement for mainstream academies requires them to comply in full with the DfE School Admissions Code and the law relating to admissions.
So, why are Trusts a good thing?
Trusts are specialist organisations set up to run and improve schools – this is why it is clearer to talk about School Trusts, rather than academy trusts. There is a very clear lines of accountability in the School Trust model. Many academies now work together in a group of schools as one entity to improve and maintain high educational standards across the group. Where a Trust runs a group of schools, it has the power to create a collaborative framework.
A group of schools working together in a single entity can do lots of things that are harder for standalone schools to do:
• Teachers work and learn together to improve the way they teach;
• Schools share practices that make a difference to the quality of teaching;
• Teachers and leaders can work together on the things that matter – like curriculum and assessment;
• Failing schools can improve – only one in 10 schools that were required to join a Trust were judged good or outstanding before they converted, compared with almost seven in 10 after they joined a Trust (of those that had been inspected);
• It is more possible for teachers and leaders to move to another school to help improve the quality of education where that school is struggling – and these moves are more likely to be to schools with more disadvantaged pupils; and
• It is more possible to be efficient – and thereby to invest money in supporting pupils to have wider opportunities.