Hollingworth Learning Trust
At our last full Governing Board meeting (Feb 9th), governors agreed to activate a formal process that will enable Heap Bridge Village Primary School to convert to an academy with the intention of joining Hollingworth Learning Trust (HLT).
This decision has been taken following two terms of informal fact finding and information gathering about the current educational landscape, financial challenges in schools and opportunities for Heap Bridge in taking advantage of the benefits there are in joining the right Multi Academy Trust (MAT).
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who or what is Hollingworth Learning Trust?
Hollingworth Learning Trust is a local MAT currently comprising of Hollingworth Academy in Milnrow and Newhouse Academy in Heywood. Many of our pupils currently leave Heap Bridge to attend Newhouse Academy (pupils will continue to be able chose other high schools) and the Headteacher has long supported Hollingworth Academy and more recently Hollingworth Learning Trust (HLT) (following them converting to a MAT in April 2020) as a trustee. As such, we have a very detailed knowledge and understanding of the vision, values and capabilities of the trust to support and enhance the work we do at Heap Bridge to provide the very best of provision for our pupils in the future.
What is a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)?
The DfE/government want every school in the country to be part of a family of schools in a strong multi academy trust. The academies programme gives individual schools greater freedoms compared to local authority control. Being an academy gives schools the power to decide on the best curriculum for their pupils, determine how they spend their budgets, and much more.
Will parents views be taken in to account before the conversion?
Absolutely... As part of our work to make a final decision on converting to an academy and joining HLT, we are seeking the views of parents. To support this process, we have set out some of the advantages as we see them on this page but parents may have other questions, concerns or potential benefits they want us to consider. As such, parents are encouraged to use the link below to participate in the consultation process to collect parental views.
Why are we proposing to join a MAT now?
Heap Bridge Village Primary School has long enjoyed operating from a position of strength. We have a great staff team, our pupil outcomes are consistently strong across all areas and we have a strong track record of collaboration across local schools. As such, we believe we have much to offer the right MAT by way of experience and capability to support the primary school sector. In joining the right MAT we can potentially provide a greater range of opportunities for staff development, staff retention and develop the experiences and capabilities of staff even further than we have been able to provide through less formal collaborations. A the the same time, being the first primary school to join HLT, we will be in a unique position to establish a framework for primaries operating within the Trust which will further benefit the school in both the short and log term.
HLT is a small trust, currently looking to grow with the acquisition of a small number of primary schools. As the government's academy programme continues to grow, we believe now is an opportune moment to join a multi academy trust in which we can play a leading role in establishing and shaping the ways in which we can take advantage of this new opportunity moving forward.
How will joining a MAT effect school finances?
The above opportunity could have both a significant positive impact on developing current staff as it does on supporting school finances as the school benefits from the brokering of the support we are able to provide. This along with other opportunities could contribute to maintaining the long term financial stability of the school. Initially, the amount of the school budget taken by the MAT to support their central services is greater than that currently taken by the Local Authority. However, part of our due diligence leading up to any conversion is to ensure that we recieve good 'value for money' in the money 'top sliced' by the MAT. For example, we will receive a number of services we currently have to pay for from the LA such as finance support, governance support and human resources (HR)/payroll. We have already seen significant enhancements to the MATs IT capacity and capabilities to support both our IT infrastructure (hardware and equipment) and to support our curriculum.
As a small school, Heap Bridge will benefit greatly from access to a shared pool or resources across trust schools, greater and more formal areas of collaboration and a shared accountability for the progress and development of all our pupils. We would be part of a smaller family of schools (than we currently are within the LA) but working much more closely to the benefit of each other.
Will the school not be vunerable if it leaves the local authority?
No. It is true that we have to consider safeguards to ensure that Hollingworth Learning Trust has the capacity to support our school if it joins the Trust. Afterall, HLT is a smaller body than the local authority and does not have access to the same financial reserves in the event of a crisis. This too is part of our due diligence and equally assessed by the DfE through the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) before a conversion is permitted to go through.
HLT has a strong team of administrative support that will help to improve our internal systems and firm up the future sustainability of the school.
What about the school name - will it have to change?
No - we may well keep the name Heap Bridge Village Primary School. There is no expectation from the Trust that we will change our name. That will be for our governing board to decide at a later date.
Will the UNIFORM have to change? NEW (added from consultation questions)
No - if the school name remains the same there will be no need to change the uniform. The school is likely to look and feel just the same as if does now. Where changes are considered in the future, these would be phased in as to minimise or eradicate the financial implications for parents.
When my child leaves Heap Bridge, will they have to go to Newhouse (because they're in the same Trust)?
Absolutely not! Admissions in to Heap Bridge, in year transfers and applications to high schools will all still be managed through the local authority (as they are now). Parental choice will not be affected.
How will my child be affected if Heap Bridge joins Hollingworth Learning Trust?
We don't think they will notice. We expect over time that they will enjoy the benefits that joining the Trust will bring. They have already used curriculum resources loaned to us through the Trust, they will use enhanced and more secure IT software and learning environments and may benefit from some of the specialised teaching and support offered through the two high schools in the Trust.
Most importantly, they will continue to enjoy the warm and family based ethos the school has always had along with our commitment to providing the very best provision we can to achieve the highest standards and outcomes for all our pupils.
As you may expect, the format of our parental consultation is set out as a Google Form. We encourage as many parents as possible to complete the consultation so that we can factor in your views when we next meet as a full governing board. Please note, the formal window for our parental consultation is from 28th March to 10th May.
If you missed any of the three links above, you can find the parent consultation here.