The Department for Education has released more detail on its plan to deliver a fully trust based system by 2030. Implementing school system reform in 2022 to 2023 lays out the department’s first steps in moving forward to deliver the proposals set out in the Opportunity for all schools white paper, published back in March, with some of the proposals set to commence during the remainder of this academic year.
The plans cover a variety of proposals including the department’s education investment areas (EIAs), local authority established trusts and growth for existing MATs:
- An area based approach to commissioning trusts – at first, there will be a strong focus on moving full academisation plans forwards in the 55 EIAs. Schools in these areas currently judged as Requires Improvement after having a below Good rating at their previous inspection will be eligible for intervention under new government proposals, and are asked to “engage early with regional teams in the Department” to explore joining a trust.
- A small number of “test and learn” projects will be set up to commence the initiative to give LA’s a role in establishing trusts – confirmation that the mechanism for allowing more involvement in LA’s in starting a trust will come in the form of removing the current cap on LA associated persons (LAAPs) who can serve as members of the trust. Where a trust has five members, one will still need to be independent of the LA. The cap on LAAPs for trustees will remain unchanged (19.9%).
- A focus on “strategic, not incremental growth of strong trusts” – the department will be seeking to aid the growth of trusts it deems to be “strong” using the five pillars on trust strength discussed in the white paper. Trusts that either don’t have the capacity or space for growth will be encouraged to focus on “existing practice or join another trust”.
- Expressions of interest have been invited from LAs and dioceses who are interested in working with the department to scale up academisation plans and who have secured the “in principle” agree of their schools.
A separate published document, Local authority established multi academy trusts: registration of interest, provides LA’s, as well as school leaders and governing boards, with an overview of what constitutes an ‘LA established MAT’ and how proposals can be made and assessed.
Sam Henson, NGA’s Director of Policy and Communications said:
”The release of this implementation plan provides much needed and welcome clarity and detail on some of the plans and proposals set out in both the schools white paper and schools bill. While it provides some clear next steps in establishing the fully trust based system the government is aiming to deliver by 2030, it still doesn’t provide the conclusive evidence-based case we know many maintained school and SAT governing boards and leaders are still searching for. Only time will tell if the department has said and done enough to gather the momentum needed for it to see the government’s plan come to fruition. There are still many questions lurking on what happens as we get closer to 2030 if things are not moving as quickly as the government would like.”