Are North Somerset’s schools being run by too many multi-academy trusts?

PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:18 16 January 2017

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North Somerset’s schools are being run by too many different multi-academy trusts according to Government education leaders, but little can be done to change the situation.

Worle Community School is expected to join the Priory Learning Trust.Worle Community School is expected to join the Priory Learning Trust.

The Government laid out a plan in March last year for all schools to convert into academies by 2020.

Many will be run by multi-academy trusts – a single body which is responsible for running a number of schools.

Despite a later U-turn on this policy, North Somerset Council – like other authorities around the country – will still lose its £1.6million Government education grant, meaning the services it provides to schools will come to an end. That means all of the district’s schools will need to become academies by September 2018.

Sheila Smith, the council’s director of people and communities, said the Government’s regional schools commissioner believes there are already too many multi-academy trusts (MATs) running the district’s schools.

However, the commissioner, Rebecca Clark, cannot force MATs to stop running schools.

Ms Smith said: “While we have schools in North Somerset who don’t want to become academies for a number of reasons, they are increasingly recognising they could be left on their own in quite a difficult position.

“At the moment schools are in one of eight different multi-academy trusts. The commissioner believes a place the size of North Somerset does not need eight MATs, so there will be further evaluation, not just in North Somerset but across the piste.

“It was made clear they are looking at North Somerset and will be seeking to persuade schools the number of MATs needs to reduce.”

A Department of Education spokesman told the Mercury it has no powers to reduce the number of MATs. However, if a MAT was deemed to be failing its schools by education watchdog Ofsted, changes could be made.

Existing MATs include the Inspirational Futures Trust, which runs Herons’ Moor Academy in Locking Castle, and is sponsored by the Weston College Group.

A new trust, the Priory Learning Trust (PLT), runs Priory Community School in Worle, and is expected to also start running Worle Community School later this year. St Anne’s Primary School is also interested in joining the PLT.

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