Merger Consultation

We are seeking your views on a proposed merger between Faringdon Learning Trust (FLT) and Vale Academy Trust (VAT).

The Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (ODBE) are a party to this proposal as both the existing trusts contain former Voluntary Controlled Church of England schools, and the FLT trust contains a former Voluntary Aided School.

The proposed merger between Faringdon Learning Trust (FLT) and Vale Academy Trust (VAT) presents an opportunity to bring together two geographically local and similar sized, high performing Academy Trusts to create a larger, more resilient, and efficient organisation that will be even better placed to support continued school improvement, staff development, effective operations and meet the educational challenges ahead of us.

At the centre of this proposal is an intent to secure the best possible educational provision for all current and future pupils and to retain the unique character of each school within the new trust, enhance development and career opportunities for staff and ensure the best use of funds and resources available.

Both FLT and VAT view this merger as a merger of equals. The new trust will have a new name, but will build on the shared vision and values of FLT and VAT, keeping the best that both Trusts currently offer.

Please find here the consultation document and FAQ’s.

Consultation Document

Proposed Merger of Faringdon Learning Trust and Vale Academy Trust

We are seeking your views on a proposed merger between Faringdon Learning Trust (FLT) and Vale Academy Trust (VAT).

The Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (ODBE) are a party to this proposal as both the existing trusts contain former Voluntary Controlled Church of England schools, and the FLT trust contains a former Voluntary Aided School.

Statement of Intent

The proposed merger between Faringdon Learning Trust (FLT) and Vale Academy Trust (VAT) presents an opportunity to bring together two geographically local and similar sized, high performing Academy Trusts to create a larger, more resilient, and efficient organisation that will be even better placed to support continued school improvement, staff development, effective operations and meet the educational challenges ahead of us.

At the centre of this proposal is an intent to secure the best possible educational provision for all current and future pupils and to retain the unique character of each school within the new trust, enhance development and career opportunities for staff and ensure the best use of funds and resources available.

Both FLT and VAT view this merger as a merger of equals. The new trust will have a new name, but will build on the shared vision and values of FLT and VAT, keeping the best that both Trusts currently offer.

The aim of FLT and VAT is to carry out a rigorous consultation process about the merger in the coming weeks to ensure that the needs of students, staff and the wider community are met.  FLT and VAT Trustees want to hear the views of all stakeholders in order to consider any feedback as part of their decision making process.  Your feedback will also form part of the documentation that will be presented to the Department for Education to inform their decision about the potential merger.

Location of FLT and VAT Schools

Faringdon Learning Trust  9 schools over 9 sites. One secondary school (including 6th form), 8 primary school and 6 pre-schools. [Those in yellow in the map below.]

Vale Academy Trust 9 schools over 11 sites. Two secondary schools (including 6th form), one all through primary and secondary school, 6 primary schools and 7 pre-schools. [Those in red in the map below.]

Rationale for the merger of the FLT with VAT

We need to nurture a dynamic system of strong trusts with the capacity to improve schools if we are to deliver the step change needed across England to meet our ambitions….. Scale is also what enables [trusts] to be more financially stable, maximise the impact of a well-supported workforce and drive school improvement” Opportunity for All, Department for Education White Paper 2022

Both FLT and VAT are well established, each with over 10 years’ experience as Multi Academy Trusts delivering education in south west Oxfordshire.  The two trusts’ vision and ethos are very similar: both have children at their centre, value all their staff, and use the power of their leaders to celebrate and encourage collaboration.

Over recent years we have increasingly worked collaboratively over a range of different areas, sharing key staff and benefitting from one another’s experience.  It is our shared view that the best way to realise the full benefits of collaboration will be through a merger to form a new, stronger and more sustainable trust, facilitating the sharing of best practice, enhanced professional development and school-to-school support.

The White Paper makes it clear that Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) are central to future educational policy and school development strategies. To thrive and innovate, trusts will need to expand and be responsive to supporting schools in challenging circumstances. The Department for Education expects “that most trusts will be on a trajectory to either serve a minimum of 7,500 pupils or run at least 10 schools.”. By coming together, FLT and VAT will form a MAT of four secondary and fifteen primary schools with a combined capacity for over 8,900 students and just under 1100 staff.

The new Trust will be a group of schools united by a common purpose and direction, to provide the best possible education opportunities and experiences for all young people in our communities and for those outside of our communities who choose to attend our member academies.  The essence of this is that all the academies in the new trust are committed to work together to generate excellence in their educational provision and to meet the educational challenges ahead of us. 

The continued involvement of the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education as a corporate member will ensure that the Trust will be an inclusive partnership that will preserve and develop the different characteristics of each school, allowing the schools to work together, regardless of their religious designation, in mutual respect and collaboration.

Both trusts firmly believe that all young people can succeed if they have access to exceptional education in an empathetic, supportive education environment through a balanced and motivating curriculum and rich extra-curricular provision. It is our ambition to provide this for all the students in all of our academies, creating a seamless educational experience across all key stages to develop responsible, capable and confident young people who will be prepared for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life as global citizens.

Local Governing Committees

The proposal is that each school will continue to have its own local governing committee (now known in VAT schools as Local Governing Bodies) which will be a committee of the Trust Board as they are currently. Thereby helping to ensure that local needs are considered and addressed in each school and that the unique character of individual schools is retained.

The key benefits of merging the FLT and VAT
Educational Benefits:

The new Trust will use a wealth of experience and expertise brought together from two very successful Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to help drive further school development in all of its schools.  The four secondary schools will see significantly increased benefits of collaboration and partnership, allowing them to build on their already strong foundations.  There will also be additional collaborations in the Primary phase to further enhance the progress made by all schools.

In order to achieve the very best student outcomes, the Trust will put in place school development practices that will challenge and empower all leaders to provide outstanding opportunities for students to succeed. 

The core driver of school development will be the aspiration of all leaders and classroom practitioners to constantly strive to enhance the student learning experiences.  With self-evaluation and self-improvement at the heart of all that we do, there will be no ceiling on the progress that any child can make.

Some of the school development initiatives could include:

  • Sharing of teaching, learning and assessment strategies
  • Joint and collaborative curriculum development
  • Teacher and/or subject support
  • Enhanced moderation – leading to MAT-wide exemplar materials
  • School leader peer-to-peer review
  • Enhanced continuing professional development opportunities including career development
  • The sharing of successful pastoral and behavioural approaches
  • Enhancing innovative approaches to information, advice and guidance
  • The development of strategies to support staff and student health and well-being
  • Staff recruitment and retention

Financial Benefits:

  • Savings through current duplicated roles across the two trusts
  • Centralised support services enabling enhanced collaborative procurement opportunities
  • More resilient and sustainable central structures capable of future growth

What will the merger mean for pupils?

There are three main elements to the merger which will be of benefit to the pupils.  They are

  • greater curricular opportunities
  • enhanced test and examination outcomes and
  • a wider range of facilities and resources available

A larger Multi Academy Trust (MAT) will be able to provide a broader range of enrichment activities for pupils which could include both curricular and extracurricular activities.  These could include events from the following areas; sporting events, performing arts, public speaking, science technology and engineering events etc.

Within the new MAT there will be a wider breadth of staff experience and a wider range of staff expertise, knowledge and skills.  Sharing this across the schools, and particularly for the secondary schools where there is currently only one in FLT and two in VAT, is a proven method of raising academic standards.  The new expanded MAT could provide greater staff development opportunities than currently possible thus enhancing the quality of the classroom experience and having a positive impact on pupil outcomes.

Within the two MATs as they currently exist there is a range and variety of resources and facilities much of which is common but some of which is unique.  By sharing these unique resources the opportunities and quality of experience for the pupils naturally increases, for example improved wellbeing and mental health support for pupils, improved SEN support, additional musical, sporting, STEM and pupil parliament events.

What will the merger mean for parents?

All of our schools will continue to be rooted within their local communities and be alert and responsive to the needs of those communities, their pupils, parents, guardians and carers, and all stakeholders.  Each school within FLT and VAT is unique, and the new trust is committed to maintaining each school’s individual ethos and character.

We will continue our commitment to strive for excellence in all that we deliver, and are determined to be an increasingly efficient, value for money organisation to help ensure that the maximum resource possible is directed towards teaching and learning to the benefit of the pupils. To support the continued professional development of our staff, we will build upon the cross-school support and partnership working which FLT and VAT have already implemented to great effect.  The well-being of our pupils and staff is a top priority, and we will also continue to promote the ethical values of openness, honesty, social and environmental responsibility, and caring for others.

We are proud of the achievements of all our pupils, and we know our parents, guardians and carers will always want our schools to continue to improve – we absolutely share that desire.

What will the merger mean for staff?

We will continue to recruit, train and retain the very best staff driven by a strong culture of professional development and mutual support in the pursuit of highly effective teaching and the highest levels of student progress.

The new Trust will continue to use the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) or the Condition of Service for School Teachers in England and Wales (Burgundy Book).

The new Trust will continue to use the National Joint Council (NJC), National Agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service for Local Government Services (Green Book) and Oxfordshire Local Agreements (OLA) for support staff.

Position of Staff Pensions

It is a legal requirement under the Academies Act 2010 that an academy (a scheduled body employer under the LGPS Administration Regulations) continue to offer, as appropriate, membership of:

  • Teachers’ Pension Scheme
  • Local Government Pension Scheme

The new Trust will continue to use both of these schemes.

Timeline for the Consultation

Date Detail
29 January 2024 Consultation commences. Runs for 4 school weeks Information regarding the proposal and the consultation will be placed on the FLT and VAT websites
1st February 2.00pm On-line (link to follow) for staff from FLT and VAT schools
20th February 4.00pm At Faringdon Community College, Fernham Road, Faringdon SN7 7LB for staff from FLT schools.
20th February 7.00pm Open consultation meeting at Faringdon Community College, Fernham Road, Faringdon SN7 7LB
6th February 2.00pm On-line (link to follow) for staff from FLT and VAT schools
22nd February 4.00pm At King Alfreds Academy, 6th Form Centre, Centre Site, Portway, Wantage OX12 9BY for staff from VAT schools
28th February 4.00pm At Larkmead School, Faringdon Road, Abingdon OX14 1RF for staff from VAT schools
22nd February 7.00pm Open consultation meeting at King Alfreds Academy, 6th Form Centre, Centre Site, Portway, Wantage OX12 9BY
28th February 7.00pm Open consultation meeting at Larkmead School, Faringdon Road, Abingdon OX14 1RF
6th March 2024 3pm Consultation closes. All paper and online views to be returned by 3pm.
1st September 2024 Target date for merger

How can I contribute to the consultation?

The aim of this joint consultation is to carry out a rigorous consultation process to ensure that the views of all our stakeholders are considered in a fair and open process.  You are invited to submit your comments and views:

  • By completing a short survey here on this webpage
  • By attending one of the consultation meetings above
  • Via email to: AcademyQueries@faringdonlearningtrust.org
  • By writing to:
    FLT and VAT Merger Consultation c/o Faringdon Learning Trust, Fernham Road, Faringdon, Oxon SN7 7LB

Frequently Asked Questions

Ethos, philosophy and structures

Partnership and collaboration with other schools

School policies, self-evaluation and Ofsted

Funding matters

Employee matters

Land issues

Accountability and responsibilities

We want to hear your views and thoughts

Proposed Merger of Faringdon Learning Trust and Vale Academy Trust

The proposed merger between Faringdon Learning Trust (FLT) and Vale Academy Trust (VAT) presents an opportunity to bring together two trusts to secure the best possible educational provision for current and future pupils.

Details of the proposed merger are outlined in the Merger Consultation Document which is available on both trusts’ websites.  Once you have read the proposal, and the Questions and Answer Document please answer the following questions:

  • About you

    This feedback can be anonymous, or you can provide your details:
  • Tick those that apply.
  • Feedback

    Please provide feedback by 6th March 2024 at 3.00pm.