Bonitas Multi Academy Trust




What is an Academy and a Multi Academy Trust?


Academies are publicly funded schools, independent of the local authority, held accountable through a legally binding funding agreement with the Department for Education (DfE).   Academies have to follow the same rules as all other state schools over admissions, children with special education needs and exclusions.  They are still inspected by Ofsted.


Multi-academy trusts (MATs) are groups of academies that have come together to form a charitable company, with a single group of ‘members’ (who have an overview of the governance arrangements) and a single board of trustees.     


Even as part of a MAT:  

individual schools remain as separate entities, with separate names and DfE numbers 

individual schools still receive separate Ofsted judgements and performance tables are still based on individual schools  


MATs are set up as charitable companies and are accountable directly to the Secretary of State through the regional schools’ commissioners. As charitable companies, MATs have articles of association and a scheme of delegation, legal documents that set out the governance composition and procedures for the Trust.


The people on the main governing board of a MAT are known as Trustees.  These roles come with specific legal responsibilities which include:  

ensuring the organisation remains solvent and spends money in accordance with its charitable objectives  

ensuring the schools in the MAT provide a good standard of education  

managing any conflicts of interest MATs are also required to have a group of members who sit above the board of trustees. 

The members have a hands-off, but significant, role.  They monitor the performance of the trust and hold the trustees to account.  They appoint Trustees . They will intervene if the Trustees are not performing by making changes at board level.  


MATs are required to produce a ‘scheme of delegation’ which outlines what decisions are taken by whom and at what level of the organisation.  MATs must comply with the Academy Trust Handbook which acts as the financial framework for academy trusts and sets out the financial governance requirements that all trusts must adhere to.   


Does becoming an academy change the relationship with local schools and the community? No. Academy funding agreements state that they must ensure that we will be at the heart of its community, collaborating and sharing facilities and expertise with other local schools and the wider community.


What about funding? The Department for Education via the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) meets the running costs for an academy via the General Annual Grant. Academy funding is calculated on a like-for-like basis with local authority schools. Therefore the academy will have a similar budget to that of its predecessor maintained school. With greater freedom to procure services from other providers and to realise cost efficiencies across the network, the academy will be able to make more efficient use of resources to support school improvement. Like other schools, an academy cannot run at a loss or agree a deficit budget, i.e. it must break-even.


Curriculum?  Academies are required to have a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of children.  


Process to transfer to academy status


A school wishing to academise must follow the process set out in the Academies Act 2010.  We will consult with all key stakeholder groups during the transition phase. This will include the sharing of our plans for the new academy trust and an opportunity to gather feedback and suggestions, as well as addressing any questions or concerns. A clear consultation will take place.


Transferring the employment of the staff of the school(s) from the local authority or governing body (as applicable) to the academy trust in accordance with TUPE.  All staff employed by the school have the right to transfer to the MAT and their terms and conditions, including pensions are protected.  All teachers employed have access to the Teachers Pensions Scheme and all other employees at the school have access to the Local Government Pension Scheme.


Negotiating a commercial transfer agreement for the transfer of assets and contracts of the school(s) from the local authority and/or governing body to the academy trust arranging for the academy trust to have use of the land and buildings of the school(s)


Voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools will need to enter into a church supplemental agreement with the Secretary of State and their diocese, which sets out the use of any church lands by the academy trust and protection of the religious designation of the school.


A grant from the DfE supports the costs incurred during the transfer, including for legal advisors and a consultant to manage and support the process, so that school leaders are not distracted from their responsibilities in school.


Key school information


Will we lose our school name or individuality? Schools will retain their character and will continue to look, feel and be the same as they are now.  Whilst policies and many practices may be aligned across the schools each school within the Trust has its own identity and is part of its own community. There will be no change to the school name or uniform when a school joins the Trust.  Bonitas is clear that school's should retain and control their individuality for the benefit of their own community   


Will we lose our teachers or staff? The current school team will all remain employees of the school. The staffing of the school will continue to be managed by the leadership team of the school.   The School Leadership team and Governing Body will continue to run the school daily as they do now, and parents will continue to be represented on the Governing Body.


What about school places? All pupils will automatically remain on the school register.   The school will continue to work closely and co-operatively with local partners, including other schools, community groups and organisations, and the local authority.


What about SEND? My child has special educational needs. What happens to their funding? All funding will continue to be allocated in the same way and provided by the LA.


What about church schools?  If your school is a church school then it will remain a church school within your Diocese. Bonitas has a very strong and close working relationship with the church and the Diocese of Oxford. We are committed to enhancing and developing the school’s church school distinctiveness to ensure a glowing SIAMS report at the next inspection.