Eaton Bank Academy has announced that it will be making an application to join the Fallibroome Trust from 1st September 2019. Headteacher Ed O’Neill commented “I am delighted to share the news that we will be submitting a Multi Academy Trust application to the Regional Schools Commissioner which we hope will be approved at their May meeting. We are all very excited about this next stage in the development of Eaton Bank Academy and look forward to joining a successful MAT containing local Outstanding rated schools.”
The decision to join the Fallibroome Trust is a positive and significant step in Eaton Bank Academy’s ambition to become an Outstanding school. The school is currently rated Good with Outstanding features and membership of a successful Trust provides an opportunity to work collaboratively with a group of local schools with a national reputation for excellence.
The Fallibroome Trust was established in 2014 when the Fallibroome Academy, an outstanding High School and National Teaching School, created a Multi-Academy Trust with three other schools. It has since grown to eight schools. The Trust sees the MAT model as a vehicle for school improvement, driven by moral purpose and has received praise from Ofsted for the support provided to its schools.
At a time of substantial school funding cuts, Eaton Bank Academy’s membership of the Fallibroome Trust will increase financial security for the school. Over the last five years Eaton Bank Academy has successfully bid for £5m in capital investment to create a first-class learning environment. This has improved student and sporting facilities including the addition of a new all-weather football 3G pitch funded through the Football Foundation working with Vale Juniors JFC. As the school experiences unprecedented growth in popularity, membership of the Fallibroome Trust will ensure this essential investment in resources and facilities continues.
Eaton Bank Academy’s values and identity, including uniforms, which has made the school such a popular choice with parents, will remain unchanged. The school will continue to work closely with the Congleton Education Community Partnership and maintain its valued role within the local community. The close links with feeder primary schools will continue to thrive and there will be no impact on the admissions policy for Congleton pupils wishing to join Eaton Bank Academy.
Chair of Governors Keith Smith added, “This is a perfect fit for Eaton Bank Academy on our journey to become an Outstanding school. We are hoping to join a fantastic group of schools. The proposed membership of the Trust will provide Eaton Bank with added financial stability as we continue to grow. The school will be joining a community of academic excellence, which will be hugely beneficial to teaching staff, school leadership and the young people in our school.
Our Governing Board have spent significant time evaluating, and carefully considering, a number of MAT opportunities and are confident that the Fallibroome Trust will provide Eaton Bank students and staff with the best option for their future. The Fallibroome Trust offers a clear operating model with strong business and governance support that complements and shares our values. The current senior leadership team will continue to manage and move the school forward to meet our common goals, but have the opportunity to share best practice with colleagues across the Trust.”
Peter Rubery, CEO of the Fallibroome Trust said, “We will be delighted to welcome Eaton Bank Academy to the Fallibroome Trust. Our mission is to create the conditions for all students to develop the knowledge, skills and aptitudes that will enable them to succeed in the future and we firmly believe that Eaton Bank will add capacity to our school improvement agenda. The Trust is characterised by shared values and a commitment to collaboration and mutual support, with Governing Bodies enjoying a sense of autonomy within an agreed scheme of delegation.
Each school benefits from high quality business support, which allows Headteachers to focus on teaching and learning, and extended professional development opportunities that enhance recruitment and retention. The incorporation of Eaton Bank will create a strong local community of secondary and primary schools and we look forward to working with Mr O’Neill, his governors, staff and students to explore the huge potential for innovation and mutual benefit.”
Parent’s Information Evening
Parent information meetings will be hosted at Eaton Bank Academy on Wednesday 8th May at 7pm. Please email J.Davies@eatonbank.org if you wish to attend.
What is a MAT?
All schools which join are governed by a single academy trust. The schools’ individual governing bodies will become Local Governing Bodies, subject to a scheme of delegation and the oversight of the Multi-Academy Trust, which has ultimate responsibility for the running of all of its academies. The Multi-Academy Trust will be accountable and responsible for the performance of all of the academies in the Trust and will delegate a range of decision-making powers to the Local Governing Bodies of the individual academies.
Who are The Fallibroome Trust?
The Fallibroome Multi-Academy Trust was established in 2014 with four schools and has subsequently grown to eight schools with an ambition to grow to ten by 2020. It has a strong reputation for improving educational standards by collaborative and effective partnership.
The aim of The Fallibroome Trust is simple: to create the conditions for all students to develop the combination of skills, qualities and knowledge that will enable them to succeed in the future. The Trust aims to attract the best teachers and support staff who want to work in an environment driven by moral purpose and a commitment to continuous improvement.
The schools in the Trust in 2018/19 are: The Fallibroome Academy, The Winsford Academy, Whirley Primary School, Broken Cross Primary Academy and Nursery, Nether Alderley Primary School, Upton Priory School, Adlington Primary School and Gawsworth Primary School.
Will Eaton Bank Academy staff remain the same?
Eaton Bank Academy’s Headteacher will still be Mr Ed O’Neill, supported by the existing Senior Leadership Team, teaching staff and support staff.
How will this impact on my child’s education?
There will be no change in your child’s day to day education. The school will retain the same school leadership team, teaching staff, curriculum and school ethos.
Membership of The Fallibroome Trust will have a positive impact on your child’s education through staff having the opportunity to share best practice and the latest educational research with a group of local Outstanding schools. Increased financial security for the school will also lead to continued investment in first class resources and facilities for students. By working together a community of ten schools will create efficiencies and opportunities that will direct more funds to the agreed school improvement agenda.
Will Eaton Bank Academy change its name or uniform?
No, Eaton Bank Academy will retain its same unique identity, name and uniform. The Fallibroome Trust is a partnership of schools who retain their own unique identities within their local communities but commit to collaboration and mutual support in order to drive improvement. Membership of the Trust will be acknowledged in letterheads and signage.
How will the The Fallibroome Trust impact on Year 7 and in-year admissions?
There will be no change to the current process for school admissions. The experience of our other secondary schools is for demand to increase, for instance both schools are oversubscribed for September 2019.
What are the timescales for this project?
The Trust will seek approval for the proposal for Eaton Bank Academy to join the Fallibroome Trust through the usual process. Applications are submitted to the Regional Schools’ Commissioner, who is advised by his Headteacher Board. We expect our application to be considered in May, for incorporation in September 2019.
Is there any parental consultation?
There is no formal parental consultation as Eaton Bank is already an Academy. Parent information meetings will be hosted at Eaton Bank Academy on Wednesday 8th May at 7pm. Please email J.Davies@eatonbank.org if you wish to attend.
What are the lines of accountability for the Trust?
MATs are charities, limited by guarantee.
There are three lines of accountability:
Members – who set the objectives for the Trust and appoint Trustees (also known as Directors). There are four current Members, two of whom are independent of association with any of the schools.
Trustees – there are currently 9 Trustees, they have been selected to create a range of skills and experience. Trustees serve terms of office and are subject to review by the office of the Regional Schools’ Commissioner who, in turn, is accountable to the Secretary of State for the performance of Academies, MATs and free schools in the West Midlands region. The Board is responsible for strategy and monitors the performance of the MAT by a range of key performance indicators at half termly meetings over the year.
Governing Bodies – The Trust delegates operational matters to Local Governing Bodies who manage their schools on a largely traditional basis, with a commitment to deliver the vision and values of the Trust and engage in collaboration and peer review in order to share best practice.
The CEO – The CEO is accountable to the Board for the performance of all Academies. He is supported by a Chief Financial Officer, Executive Primary Principal and a team of specialist business and school improvement officers. The current CEO is Peter Rubery. He is a National Leader of Education and has 26 years’ experience of school leadership including leading two schools in multiple Outstanding judgements. He has served on Ministerial advisory groups and established partnerships with schools in Australia, Singapore and South Africa.
The Headteachers of all Academies meet each half term to monitor performance against the agreed development plan. The CEO and Executive Principal visit schools at least half termly in order to monitor performance and generate collaboration to meet each school’s needs.
How is the MATs financial performance monitored?
The Board sets a five-year budget and receives termly monitoring reports, much like a local governing body.
Annual accounts are subject to external audit and are published at Companies House.
All Academies and MATs are subject to financial monitoring by the ESFA and required to make returns at various point of the year.
Have the schools in the MAT improved since joining the Trust?
Five out of eight schools have been inspected by Ofsted since incorporation. All have received improved judgements. Our two ‘sponsored’ schools that were in difficulty for a variety of reasons have stabilised and secured better outcomes and the confidence of the community, for instance The Winsford Academy will be oversubscribed for the first time in its history in September 2019.
Where can I find further information?
Further information about the Fallibroome Trust, including the names of members and Trustees; the 3 year Strategic Plan and CPD offer can be found on the Trust website http://www.fallibroometrust.com/
Information about each school’s academic performance with links to most recent Ofsted reports can be found at the DfE’s Performance Tables https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/
Fallibroome Trust MAT Meeting, 8.5.2019 at Eaton Bank Academy
Peter Rubery – CEO of the Fallibroome Trust
Ed O’Neill – Eaton Bank Academy Headteacher
Keith Smith – Chair of Governors, Eaton Bank Academy
Sian Geddes – HR Lead
Elizabeth Whitehurst – Strategic Business Manager, Eaton Bank Academy
Questions from parents
How does the MAT work with regard to individual school budgets? Does Eaton Bank Academy keep its own budget and if another school has a deficit, does Eaton Bank (or other schools) have to fund it?
Ed O’Neill – We currently work on a lagged funding formula and joining the MAT will ensure we will be funded for the actual number of pupils. Joining the MAT secures funding and finances for Eaton Bank. Each school is an individual cost centre and manages its own budget.
Elizabeth Whitehurst – There are no schools in deficit within the MAT. Funding is direct to schools and each school has its own bank account. There is a balance sheet per school so each school retains its own assets.
Peter Rubery – The MAT is a high autonomy model where schools retain control of finances
Will Eaton Bank retain local Governing Body?
Peter Rubery – Yes
Are there any opportunities for Eaton Bank Governors to have a place higher up in the MAT?
Peter Rubery – This is likely, but no decision has been made yet.
During the due diligence process, what were the weaknesses identified?
Ed O’Neill – When considering a MAT, autonomy was an issue and we were very happy with the autonomy offered within the Fallibroome MAT. One of the single biggest factors we considered was whether the schools in the MAT shared our value system. At Eaton Bank we want the best for every child, the opportunity to become good citizens. Again, the MAT shared these values. We also wanted opportunities for staff beyond Eaton Bank Academy.
Peter Rubery – Staff recruitment and retention has become a very important issue for schools. We need to compete for the very best teachers and being part of a MAT with additional CPD opportunities makes Eaton Bank Academy a more attractive proposition for recruitment.
Ed O’Neill – Eaton Bank Academy has always been part of the local community, for example the CECP and Chimney House Alliance. By joining this MAT we are not diluting our networks, but adding to them.
Who is responsible for recruitment?
Peter Rubery – Up to the headteacher level, recruitment decisions are made at school level.
In other MATS there has been a high turnover of Trustees which have destabilised schools. How long have the Fallibroome Trustees been in place?
Peter Rubery – All the information about Trustees can be found on the MAT website. Most of the Trustees started as Fallibroome Governors and as time as gone by, they have become more separated from Fallibroome to ensure independence.
Ed O’Neill – we need stable leadership and we wouldn’t put ourselves in a MAT that wasn’t stable.
What is the MAT’s SEN policy? Is there any ‘off-rolling’?
Peter Rubery – There is an attempt to meet the needs of all students within the MAT. There is sharing of SENCO best practice and expertise within the MAT and there is no ‘off-rolling’
Ed O’Neill – Off Rolling is an immoral practice by which schools remove students from their roll without permanent exclusion. For example asking a child to be educated at home. It is done for the benefit of the school (for example their progress 8 results), rather than for the benefit of the child. There is a moral imperative for the best education for all pupils and there is no ‘off-rolling’ in Cheshire East.
Cheshire East SEND provision has been chaotic. We have already talked to leaders within the MAT to see their SEND best practice.
How have staff taken the news?
Ed O’Neill – staff were informed before Easter and have taken the news very well. They asked about Eaton Bank’s own Trust, which would be dissolved if we joined the MAT. They asked who is the boss? And the answer is the Fallibroome Trust. Overall very positive from staff and they would be happy to join a Trust with good links and good schools.
Where are we in the process to become a MAT?
Peter Rubery – the process is in place, but not yet approved. We have to submit an application to the regional schools commissioner for scrutiny. It should be approved and we are on track for Eaton Bank to join us in September.
Is there a cut off point for pupil numbers?
Peter Rubery – There is no cap on pupil numbers, just the total number of schools in the MAT. We don’t wish to grow beyond the optimum number of schools which is 10 to 15. After Eaton Bank Academy join us, we plan a period of consolidation.
What will the impact be on students? Will there be a unified 6th Form or a change in uniform?
Ed O’Neill – Our 6th Form will remain independent, but we will liaise with Fallibroome 6th Form and utilise their experience and share our expertise. There will be no change of uniform.
Peter Rubery – The MAT is still growing and evolving and there will be lots of opportunities for schools and students to work together. Schools have recently developed a shared recycling agenda and worked on a Shakespeare Festival.
Comments from Keith Smith, Chair of Governors Eaton Bank Academy
The Governing Body at Eaton Bank Academy took a long time to ensure that the MAT was the correct, long term, decision for the school. The Governors firmly believe it is the correct decision for the school and we all want the very best future for Eaton Bank Academy. The Governors looked for a MAT where there was autonomy for Eaton Bank plus support for the school as it continues to grow. Joining the MAT will allow the Head, SLT and governors to fully focus on ensuring that we deliver the very best education for all of our students.
Please find attached below a copy of the the Fallibroome Trust Presentation. Further information, including a short video about the MAT can be found here