Since the Academies Act 2010 schools have had the option to convert into an academy and become independent schools, separate from the local authority. In addition, if a school receives the lowest Ofsted grading following an inspection it is required to become an academy to be sponsored by a multi-academy trust (MAT). All freestanding schools which are already academies are encouraged to join MATs.
The ODBE has adopted a neutral stance in respect of schools converting to academies and approximately a third of our schools have now converted.
The ODBE encourages maintained schools to form positive collaborations and partnerships, which could be joining a MAT.
This is to ensure that sufficient strong partnerships of church schools will be formed, so that schools can work together to share good and outstanding practice, and thereby support one another to improve and help address the economic sustainability issues of, particularly, small schools.
To help provide choice for schools there are two Diocesan MATs. The Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST), established in 2012 with, as of February 2021, 38 schools and is available for schools across Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The Oxford Diocesan Bucks Schools Trust (ODBST) was established in September 2017 and has 12 schools to date. We also work with over 20 MATs across the Diocese which church schools could join.
We expect the number of MATs to rise slightly in the future and we are always in discussion with local groups who wish to move forward in this way. It is likely that the smallest MATs will need to grow or merge to become viable in the longer term. Any school considering establishing a MAT as an option should speak to a member of the diocesan team at the earliest opportunity for guidance on diocesan requirements as well as to explore support services for your group on this journey.
Gordon Joyner - Deputy Director
email Gordon Joyner or tel: 07801 884401