Our FAQs provide further information about Diversa and cover common queries regarding schools joining a Multi Academy Trust.


ABOUT DIVERSA

What is a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)? +

A Multi Academy Trust (MAT) is a group of schools working in collaboration, as one entity, to improve and maintain high educational standards across the Trust. The Trust is a Company Limited by Guarantee with charitable exemption. This means the Trust must comply with both company and charity law and comply with its charitable Objects as set out in the Articles of Association (the rules of the Trust).

The Trust does not have shareholders and cannot pay dividends. Any surpluses must be retained to be spent in ways consistent with the charitable objects. The Trustees and Trust Members are unpaid.

It has a Board of Trustees, who are registered as directors at Companies House https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/10821644 and Members who are listed in the Memorandum and Articles of Association. The Trustees are accountable in four ways:

  • First, to the Secretary of State who has the power to intervene in the Trust and/or terminate the Funding Agreement that allows the Trust to run schools;
  • Second, to Ofsted which has the same rights of inspection;
  • Third, the Trust is accountable under company law with responsibilities such as publishing audited accounts;
  • Fourth, the Trustees are accountable under charity law.

Which schools are in Diversa MAT? +

Bignold Primary School and Nursery http://bignoldprimaryschool.co.uk/ Angel Road Infant School (Including North City Sure Start Children’s Centre) http://www.angelroadinfant.co.uk/ Angel Road Junior School http://www.angelroadjunior.norfolk.sch.uk/

Why are you called Diversa? +

We are called Diversa because we have a strong ethical focus, based on transparency, openness, inclusivity and diversity. We offer:

  • Ambitious, self-confident, community primaries with strong leadership (including EYFS), who offer significant additional capacity to help schools improve.
  • Skills in raising standards, in inclusive schools, against the odds and providing excellent behaviour.
  • An ethical, values-based approach to school improvement

What are the measures of success? How will you know if you have succeeded? +

In the longer term, the Trust will expect partnership working to impact on each school’s performance including pupil attainment and progress. Our aim is for all schools to be outstanding. In the short term, the overall performance of the Trust will be judged in terms of the quality of school improvement work in its schools and the provision of high quality services to schools.

What are the criteria for schools joining Diversa? +

Any school may apply but in order to protect the interests of the Academies already in the Trust, the Board may defer entry in certain cases where due diligence criteria are not met.

Who makes the decision whether schools can join? +

For converter Academies, the decision is taken by the governing body of the school in question, along with the Secretary of State and the Trustees of the Diversa Trust.

Enforced academisation goes through the partnership process with the Local Authorities and the DfE who find a suitable sponsor. This is then the decision of the Secretary of State for Education.


GOVERNANCE

What is the difference for a Local Governing Body? +

Because the legal roles and responsibilities for the Trust Board replace the legal roles and responsibilities of a Local Governing Body of a school there is no legal necessity to have a Local Governing Body. However, Diversa Multi Academy Trust recognises the importance and values the contribution of staff, parent and community involvement in the leadership of each Diversa school through School Oversight Teams. These can include previous LGB governors.

Who are the Trustees and Members of a Multi Academy Trust? +

The Trustees are responsible for three core governance areas, as performed by a governing body in a maintained school. These include:

  • Providing the strategic direction and vision;
  • Ensuring the Headteacher / Head of School delivers against expectations, objectives and achieves positive educational results;
  • Financial responsibility and stability. The MAT has the structure of a charitable company and the Trustees are therefore company directors, and must comply with company law requirements. The chair of the board of Trustees is also a Member. Members hold Trustees to account.

Are there set terms for Trustees and Members? +

The term for a Trustee is 4 years. There is no term of office for a Member. They can however choose to resign or be forced to resign the role by the Secretary of State.

In the governance model, how many roles are paid? +

The CEO receives a salary for their executive role. All other governance roles are unpaid.

Who agrees the priorities for the Academy? +

Each Academy is base-line assessed on admission to the Trust. It will then be the responsibility of the Head of School or Headteacher to work alongside the CEO to set the priorities for the Academy each year. These are then monitored by the Trustees.

How can governors find out more before choosing a preferred MAT model? +

It is advisable that key governors and senior leaders carry out due diligence before deciding to join a MAT. This might include staff and governors visiting schools within the MAT and questioning staff and governors. It would also be advisable to examine the websites of the MATs to see how their ethos and vision compare to your own. The DfE has a useful page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/convert-to-an-academy-information-for-schools/1-before-you-apply

On this page, there is detailed information about each stage of the process, as well as a form to register your interest with the DfE.


FINANCE & LEGAL

How does the finance work? +

Each school will continue to be funded based on the Norfolk County Council funding formula, which is agreed by a body called Schools Forum. Academies do not receive any further funding.

A key principle agreed by the schools is that each individual school will retain their reserves and be allocated their full funding to plan their budgets, which will then be approved by the Trustees. Each school is required to make the agreed contribution to the Management Fee.

Another key principle agreed by the schools is that each school must run a balanced budget. This is to ensure that funding is not diverted away from the pupils and school it is intended for. Failure to do so would lead to an intervention by the Trustees.

The Trust is required to appoint a Chief Finance Officer with the appropriate skills and expertise to manage the Trust’s finances. In addition, the Trust is required to publish its independently audited accounts and financial statements. This includes a breakdown of income and expenditure per school.

Where will the funding come from? +

Academies receive the same amount of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the Local Authority as a maintained school. They also receive additional funding in the form of the Education Services Grant to cover the responsibilities of the MAT, in place of Local Authority. The whole of the school budget comes directly to the MAT from central Government and is then distributed to the schools, allowing each school to control the whole of its spending.

Where will the extra funding to join the MAT come from? +

Each school will receive £25,000 from the DfE to cover the costs incurred by conversion to an academy.

What will be the impact on our budget in year 1 and subsequently? +

The part of the schools funding that is normally retained by the local authority to meet the costs of services provided by the Local Authority to schools is the area from which the Trust takes its Management Fee for the provision of similar services to its Academies. The remaining funding provided by the government for each academy is calculated in the same way as before.

How much is held back by the Local Authority? Will we get the Local Authority money back? +

The Local Authority will keep the de-delegated funding and any funding for additionally paid for services that they continue to provide.

What audit arrangements are in place? +

A condition of the Funding Agreement is that Diversa appoints an Accounting Officer and undertakes an annual independent audit. In addition, the Trust is required to appoint a Responsible Officer as per the requirements of the financial handbook. The Responsible Officer ensures that an independent oversight of the financial affairs of Trust’s academies takes place.

Will there be a Trust Financial Handbook? +

Yes. The Trust Academy financial handbook requires the Trust to draw up an internal financial policy.

Who will provide finance support? +

The Trust will provide full support to all its Academies when submitting their annual financial reports. Finance for schools is run centrally. Our Payroll is run through the Local Authority Payroll system and therefore there is consistency in line with all Local Authority schools. All pay dates remain the same so that this does not cause a problem for personal commitments.

What are the risks around privatisation and the influence of outside companies? +

The Trust is bound by charitable law that prevents private companies taking a commercial interest or investing in the Trust. The Trust does not generate a profit and any surplus it achieves must be reinvested back into the Trust.

The term ‘sponsor’ refers to the sponsoring of an underperforming school by the Trust, rather than commercial interest from a private company.

Will land be sold off? +

No, the land is owned by the Local Authority and the Trust has no authority to sell off any of the land or to use it as collateral.

Are there benefits that a school receives from the Local Authority that they don’t receive as a MAT? +

Historically, the support from the Local Authority was good, but this capacity has diminished considerably. They now charge for a number of the services that were once provided to the schools for free, so joining a MAT will not result in a reduction of un-costed service provision.

Can a school withdraw from the conversion process? +

Schools are able to withdraw right up until the point that the DFE sign the Funding Agreement. Once this is signed there is a legally binding agreement between the Secretary of State and the academy.

If it all goes wrong, who will be held responsible? +

It is Diversa who will be held responsible who will report to the DfE. through the Regional Schools Commissioner. Ultimately if the Trust is unable to support a school successfully they may be brokered to join a different MAT.


STAFF

Who will be the employer of the staff who work in a MAT? +

The Trust will be the new employer. Employee contracts are moved over to the Trust. This is called TUPE.

Will you consult with staff, community and parents? +

Yes, as part of our approach to project management for any new academy, we will consult with all key stakeholder groups during the transition phase. This will include the sharing of our plans for the new academy (known as the Expression of Interest) and an opportunity to gather feedback and suggestions, as well as addressing any questions or concerns. A clear consultation and communications strategy will be agreed with the school.

Will the Trust recognise and engage with our trade unions? +

Yes, Diversa recognises the role of trade unions and sees positive engagement as critical to the transition process and ongoing success of the academy. They will play an important role in the consultation process on TUPE for staff. Diversa Multi Academy Trust contributes to the Norfolk facilities time fund and also abides by the Burgundy and Green books.

Will pay scales stay the same? +

Yes, staff will continue to be employed as per the conditions of service they had prior to the school becoming an Academy.

How will the TUPE process work and what specific responsibilities does the school have? +

  • The Governing Body is responsible for informing and consulting staff
  • The Governing Body acts with due diligence and passes staff details to the Academy Trust
  • The Academy Trust writes to each member of staff confirming that they will transfer under existing terms and conditions
  • The Governing Body gives indemnity for the period staff worked for them, normally as part of the Commercial Transfer Agreement

Will staff levels change? +

Moving to Academy status will not dictate the number or make-up of staff. Decisions on staffing depend on need as well as the resources available.

Is there continuity of service? +

Diversa will recognise the continuity of service of new employees joining the Trust.

Currently, there is no legal obligation for a Local Authority or another academy Trust to recognise continuity of service of academy Trust employees for all aspects of employment. Importantly, however, your previous service will be recognised by any local authority or academy for the purposes of pensions and redundancy payments.

Will staff be required to move between schools? +

Staff will normally have a contract of employment to work in their current school and this is protected through the transfer of employment, therefore staff will continue to work in their existing school.

However, there are three circumstances where staff may work in another Trust school.

  • First, is when a job at another Trust school is advertised and an employee applies for and is appointed to that role.
  • Second, when a staff member voluntarily agrees to work within another school in the MAT.
  • Third, there may be new posts created in the future that are Trust-wide and any staff member appointed to such a post would be expected to work across schools.

If staff are asked to take on Trust-wide responsibilities, then TLRs and temporary payments will be put in place.

Who will appoint staff to a school? +

The Scheme of Delegation states that the Academy Headteacher or Head of School under the CEO is responsible for all new appointments. The only exceptions to this are that the Headteacher or Head of School is appointed by the Trust.

What is going to be different in the MAT with regard to opportunities for recruitment and retention? +

The Trust offers the benefits listed below to staff, which should aid staff recruitment and retention.

  • Enhanced professional development
  • Joint planning with other teachers
  • Resource sharing
  • Access to subject specialists
  • Share phase/year expertise
  • Potential for Career progression within the Trust
  • Support with workload management
  • More job security

If a school becomes an Academy, who takes responsibility for the pension arrangements of teachers? +

Teachers working in an Academy fall within the scope of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), just as if they were employed in a Local Authority maintained school. As the employer, the Academy would be responsible for remitting contributions to the TPS and for all other administrative responsibilities that fall to employers who employ teachers who are subject to the Teachers’ Pensions Regulations. Teachers’ pensions, whose contact details are below, administer the Scheme on behalf of the Department and will provide you with full information about the role and responsibility of employers in relation to scheme administration.

Teachers’ Pensions, Capita Hartshead, Mowden Hall, Darlington, DL3 9EE Telephone: 0845 606 6166 Fax: 01325 745789 Website: http://www.teacherspensions.co.uk/

If a school becomes an Academy, who takes responsibility for the pension arrangements of support staff? +

Non-teaching staff at schools fall within the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). As the employer, the Academy would be responsible for meeting the employer contribution. Academies are obliged to offer LGPS membership to staff. Unlike the TPS, there are a number of component schemes within LGPS, with the Local Authority acting as pension administrator.

The employer contribution rate may differ from that payable by the Local Authority. Academies mandatorily fall within the TPS and LGPS but it is open for an individual member of staff to opt out of the TPS or LGPS, as the case may be, if they preferred to make other pension provision for themselves.


GENERAL

How does academy status affect SEN funding? +

SEN funding will come directly from the government through the Education Funding Agency. Funding allocated to a named child would continue to be funded directly by the local authority.

Will the school remain non-selective? +

Yes, academies are non-selective schools. Academies are required to follow the law and guidance on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as if they were maintained schools. It is the aim of the Trust to ensure that our academies provide high quality, inclusive education for local children.

How will it work if something goes wrong in a school e.g. a broken boiler? +

The Trust will take out insurance cover for all the schools.

Will there be changes to our PTA and fundraising? +

Joining the MAT will not lead to any changes to the PTA or the way you fund raise. Each school will retain its existing PTA/Friends group that will continue to raise money for your local school.

What difference will there be day to day at each school? +

Very little will change. Parents and pupils will still have the same staff in the same school doing the same jobs. Differences come at a more senior level: governance, how the schools are financially run and staff training. There will however be a larger infrastructure of support. Any changes will only occur if a school needs them, for example sharing leadership expertise if a school requires it. This has enormous benefits for continuity of teaching for the children, for example if a senior staff member was absent or ill. In a crisis, there would be other senior leaders from our Trust to support the school.

Will my school have a new name? +

Each school will retain its current name.

Will there be one uniform across the schools? +

No, all schools will keep their existing uniforms. We want each school to retain their individual character and identity.

What happens when one school is different in nature to the others or begins to perform less well? +

If the Trust is required to provide support to an under-performing school, the CEO will lead the coordination of resources to deliver the improvement plan, working with the Chief of Staff and the other Headteachers. Because we have additional capacity, we would ensure that the existing schools would not be adversely affected. There is also DfE funding available, which LAs cannot apply for, which MATs can access to help support school improvement work in underperforming schools. Differences between schools will be valued and will add to the richness of the Trust.

What are the drawbacks of becoming an academy? +

In the short term, the drawbacks are the work involved for the schools in setting up the new financial systems and new governance systems that need to be in place at the time of conversion.

In the long term, once a school converts to academy status it cannot return to Local Authority maintained status. It is also quite hard to leave a Multi Academy Trust once a school has joined, as it requires the consent of the Secretary of State for Education and the identification and consent of another Multi Academy Trust. This why governing bodies should consider the Trust’s governance, leadership and management very carefully. The aim is that everyone has a clear and consistent understanding of what being part of Diversa will mean for each school before joining.


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