Which trusts are proposing to merge?
Bullers Wood Multi Academy Trust (BWMAT) and Chislehurst School for Girls (CHSFG) are proposing to merge, with CHSFG joining BWMAT to form a new trust with a new name. This will result in a local trust formed of the following schools:
- Bullers Wood School for Boys
- Bullers Wood School for Girls & Sixth Form
- Chislehurst School for Girls
How will the schools benefit from the merger?
The aim of the merger is to protect, secure and develop both organisations’ visions for outstanding, local education. By working in partnership our schools will benefit from the support the other schools will bring. It will also make sharing good practice much easier. The partnership will also make the Trust stronger financially and will ensure we are sustainable in unpredictable times.
Have the Trusts been asked to partner by the Local Authority or the Department for Education?
No, the two Trusts know each other well through existing links. The two sets of Trustees see the advantages of joint working and see each other as ideal partners.
How will the schools change after the merger?
Changes from the merger will largely be at the central trust level. When considering merging, both BWMAT and CHSFG Trust Boards have agreed a commitment to:
- Maintaining the distinct identity of each school in the Trust
- Outstanding support for all students, including those with SEND, and strong pastoral care
- Community focus and engagement
- Professional development for all staff
- A broad and challenging curriculum with wide range of enrichment opportunities
- Excellent academic outcomes in a supportive environment
- Keeping decision-making at school level unless there is a clear benefit to making decisions at Trust level
- High standards of professionalism in all areas
- Best possible use of resources
Each school will retain a Local Governing Body (LGB), with the Headteacher responsible for the day-to-day running of the school. The LGB will have powers delegated from the Trust Board under an agreed Scheme of Delegation.
Will each School retain its individual ethos?
Yes, the BWMAT and CHSFG Trust Boards are very clear that the individual ethos, character and good practices of each school will be retained and that all the schools operate as equals supporting each other. Each school is seen as central to its own community with the skills of each school being used in a supportive way for all the others.
Will this change the status of any school?
All schools involved in the merger are already academies, and so will not change in status. Academies are publicly funded independent schools that are not managed by a local authority, but their funding and accountability lies directly with the Department for Education (DfE). We are committed to maintaining a strong partnership with the Local Authority.
Will the merger change the admissions arrangements for any school?
There will be no changes to the admissions arrangements of any school as a result of this merger.
Will parents/carers be required to purchase new uniform as a result of the merger?
The merger will not change the logos, names or uniforms of any school. As such, no new uniform will need to be purchased as a result of the merger.
Why are we asking for feedback?
There is no statutory duty for BWMAT and CHSFG to consult the wider community on this change. However, the Trust Board of each trust chose to ask for feedback, in order to ensure that merger plans work for the community.
If the Trust Boards decide to proceed, there will be a separate TUPE consultation for staff.
What is the process for CHSFG to join BWMAT?
The conversion process includes the following key legal processes:
- Putting in place a Deed of Variation for the Master Funding Agreement (MFA) between BWMAT and the Secretary of State for Education, which varied the BWMAT MFA to include CHSFG
- Transferring the employment of the staff from CHSFG to BWMAT following a statutory process (TUPE)
- Agreeing a Commercial Transfer Agreement for the transfer of assets and contracts from CHSFG to BWMAT
While, as a matter of process, CHSFG is joining BWMAT, this is a function of the DfE’s preferred legal processes and is designed to reduce disruption to the staff teams across both trusts. Both Trust Boards are committed to respecting the skills and expertise that each trust will bring to the new organisation, and that values the strengths across both trusts as currently constituted.
There will be a process of forming a new Trust Board which draws on the skills and experience of both CHSFG and BWMAT current Boards.
Will there be any changes of Headteacher?
No, the leadership of the individual schools will remain the same.
The Q&A below were added in January 2023 after inviting views from our communities
What financial benefits will there be from the merger?
As part of a larger family of schools, the trust central team would be able to secure greater efficiencies and economies of scale, which will then enable the Trust to provide enhanced services to its schools. It will also ensure added resilience within the context of changes and uncertainty within the national education landscape.
Will the merger improve the new Trust’s capital resources? How will you ensure these are used to the best effect?
With 3 schools, the arrangements for capital resources will not change from those currently in place. As we grow, multi-academy trusts with at least 5 academies and more than 3,000 pupils receive a School Condition Allocation to deploy strategically across their estate to address their priority maintenance needs.
How will you ensure that any sharing of expertise and resources is not to the detriment or loss of the originating school?
We would be working in partnership to create a new trust that combines the strengths of our two existing trusts and maintains the high standards in our schools. A challenge of establishing a larger trust is ensuring that the trust takes into account and meets the different circumstances and needs of individual schools, representing value for money. It will be the role and responsibility of local governing bodies to ensure this, in partnership with trustees and there is a shared commitment to this.
How will the merger improve future outcomes for all students?
Working together will allow us to share expertise and resources to invest even more in raising standards and providing an exceptional education for our students. There will be more opportunities for staff development, including greater mutual support and challenge between schools. Additionally, it will lead to better collaboration, coordination and understanding in areas of curriculum and staffing and in the sourcing of services across our schools.
Will staff be shared across the Trust?
Our staff will benefit from greater opportunities for collaboration and personal and professional development within a larger trust. Staff will not be compelled to move between schools in the Trust, however, our aim is for staff to be able to take advantage of a wider range of career and professional development opportunities within a bigger Trust.