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About the proposed MAT - FAQs

What is Warwick Schools Foundation?

Warwick Schools Foundation is an educational charity which currently runs independent schools in Warwick and Leamington. It has a long history in Warwickshire, being able to trace its roots back to 914AD. More about the Foundation schools may be found here:

What is a multi-academy trust?

A multi-academy trust is a group of schools in the state sector, outside local authority control, who operate under a shared governance and executive model.

In many ways, the Foundation currently operates like a multi-academy trust in the independent sector.

Why is the Foundation creating a MAT?

The Foundation has very strong relationships with a number of local schools, including Westgate Primary School and Evergreen Special School. The MAT enables those relationships to develop more formally, rather than in an ad hoc manner.

The MAT also enables the Foundation to have greater impact on pupils it would not otherwise be able to support, especially true of the children who attended Evergreen Special School and Exhall Grange Specialist School.

Key to everything we do is our pupils. Pupil links between our schools and other local schools are strong, for example through mentoring and holiday activities. The more formal structure of the MAT enables closer working relationships between our pupils, for mutual benefit.

Legally, the Foundation also has to provide Public Benefit. Whilst how this is achieved is not legally defined, and can therefore be demonstrated in a number of ways, we believe this is an excellent way to show the Foundation's commitment to this important requirement, and to education in our local community.

Why is the MAT being established now?

The Foundation has been in discussion with schools and the Department for Education for the past two years. Following various meetings over that period of time, in January 2024, we were informed that the Department for Education was ready to receive an application to form the MAT. The application was submitted in March and the other processes, including the consultations for the individual schools, follow on from that.

What will be the legal status of the MAT?

Every MAT is its own charity that is also incorporated under company law, although it is not a listed charity for the Charity Commission.

The best way to describe the MAT in relation to the Foundation is that it is a subsidiary of the current charity. It is, however, a separate legal entity.

What will be the relationship between the Foundation and the MAT?

The MAT will share the ethos and values of the Foundation. In order to do that, there will be links at both Governance and Executive level.

Current Governors of Warwick Schools Foundation will appoint the majority of Members and Trustees of the MAT. At executive level, the Foundation Principal and Foundation Bursar will act as Accounting Officer (CEO) and CFO of the MAT respectively.

The MAT may purchase professional services from the Foundation, for example, HR.

What are the benefits of the MAT for the Foundation?

The benefits are entirely educational.

The Foundation already has very strong links with a number of local schools. For those schools joining the MAT, these links will strengthen, for example through pupil activities, sharing of expertise between the MAT schools and across the Foundation. The MAT allows us to focus our relationships, whilst still maintaining our links with state schools outside the WSF MAT.

The Foundation, as a charity, also has to provide Public Benefit. We believe this is an excellent way to show the Foundation's commitment to this legal requirement.

What will the MAT gain from the Foundation?

The Foundation has experience of running a group of schools and nurturing each school's individuality. Our approach to the MAT will be the same.

The Foundation also has a mature business arm - our Professional Services - which can be purchased by the MAT. Over time, this will supplement the expertise already found in the individual MAT schools and also enable cost savings for the MAT through economies of scale and greater purchasing power, for example with a group approach to procurement.

As the schools with the closest relationship to the Foundation, we will be able to concentrate our relationship with them. For example, this may include focused use of facilities, which are currently used ad hoc by local schools.

Will this change the Foundation’s relationship with other local schools?

The Foundation has developed programmes for pupils at many local schools, a number of which are funded through the grant awarded to us by King Henry VIII Endowed Trust, Warwick. These have evolved over time, and include 'Warwick - A Singing Town' and the partnership we have with Orchestra of the Swan. We intend to continue to develop these relationships not just with the WSF MAT schools and other local schools outside the MAT, especially for the benefit of pupils in the towns of Warwick and Leamington.

How will the independent schools and the MAT operate?

The independent schools will continue to run as they do today, led by their respective heads and senior leadership teams. Professional Services will continue to serve the schools, led by the Foundation Bursar. The Foundation will continue to be led by the Foundation Principal.

The MAT schools will be led by their Heads and senior leadership teams. There will be a Director of the MAT and a Head of MAT Finance and Operations. These roles will report into the Foundation Principal as MAT CEO and Foundation Bursar as MAT CFO respectively.

It is intended that the two group of schools will work together on areas of common interests, as indeed some of the schools do already. For example, pupils from the Foundation schools already work with pupils from Westgate and Evergreen.

What is the funding mechanism for the MAT?

As a group of state schools, the MAT and its schools will be funded by central government with SEND income continuing to be provided by Warwickshire County Council.

No fee income is being expended on the MAT.

Will there be any change in focus for the Foundation schools?

No. We are completely committed to ensuring that the current Foundation schools remain outstanding, and the first-choice for parents wishing to educate their children independently. We are immensely proud of our schools, our families, our staff, and our alumni. They are vibrant communities, testament to the development of the schools over successive generations. That will not change.

Does this model exist elsewhere?

Whilst it is not common for charities which run independent schools to also partner with state schools, it is not unprecedented.

Locally, King Edward VI Foundation in Birmingham runs two independent schools and a MAT which includes both state grammar schools and state comprehensive schools.

The United Learning Trust also operates both independent schools and state-funded academies.

Will the MAT grow?

As part of the application process to form a MAT, a growth plan is required. We expect the MAT to grow to around nine schools over the next five years.

What happens next?

From the perspective of the Foundation, nothing happens - there are no changes to the current schools.

The proposed MAT schools are beginning a process of consultation, which will last six school weeks. The outcomes of the consultation will be considered and all things being equal, the application will then be reviewed by the DfE’s West Midlands Regional Director officers and DfE Policy Team, then be considered by the Regional Director’s Advisory Board, before being approved by the Regional Director himself. This process is likely to take several months. The aim is that the MAT should be in existence from 1 January 2025.