THE governors of the Holsworthy Federation have announced their plans to look into the possible formation of a Dartmoor Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).

They have been working with a number of neighbouring schools to look into the possibility of joining together to create a MAT.

A MAT is a group of schools that work together in a formal agreement, with a single board of trustees governing all the schools within it. The board of trustees is responsible for decisions relating to how each school is run but there will also be a local governing body that will monitor and challenge the quality of education in each school.

It is envisaged that the new trust will consist of the following schools and federations: Holsworthy Federation — Holsworthy College, Black Torrington C of E Primary School, Bradford Primary School and Bridgerule C of E Primary School; North Tawton Community Primary School; Okehampton Primary School; South Tawton Primary School; Tavistock College; Dartmoor Federation — Okehampton College, Boasley Cross Primary School, Bridestowe Primary School, Exbourne C of E Primary School, Lydford Primary School, Northlew and Ashbury C of E Primary School; Chagford C of E Primary School; and Crediton — QE Academy Trust.

Lee Rose, chair of the governors of the Holsworthy Federation, wrote in a communication brief: “We believe that to ensure that all our children continue to receive the best possible educational opportunities we must partner with like-minded schools. Similarly, if we are going to attract the best and develop our existing staff we must be part of a larger educational community. Traditionally we would have looked to our local education authority to provide such challenge, advice and support.

“However, with continued local authority cut backs and the diversion of funding directly into schools this service us becoming more and more problematic. Our experience of local informal partnerships to date has been encouraging and we have already joined the Dartmoor Teaching Schools Alliance based around Okehampton College.

”We therefore see the formalising of our partnership arrangements as being the next logical step. Furthermore, we believe that by proactively choosing and forming the structure and ethos of the partnership we can ensure that our local community, for both today and tomorrow, is best served.”

An academy school is similar to a local authority maintained school (LA). Both types of school receive funding from central government. For a LA school, funds are routed first to the LA, which can retain an amount to fund its central services. For an academy, the same funds are sent directly to the school, which can then decide how all the monies are spent to best effect.

A MAT is a group of academy schools that work under a single governing board. It is legally a charity and so cannot be run for profit. All funds received must be used for the benefits of the children it serves.

The chair of governors wrote: “We believe that this autonomy will allow us to direct resources in the best and most effective way to benefit our children.”

All the schools have now ‘expressed an interest’ to form the MAT with the local office of the regional schools commissioner.

If the application is approved each school receives a one-off grant to cover the admin and legal cost involved in converting from a LA controlled school to an academy.

Under the next step of the process the trust will be consulting with parents, staff and other stakeholders — this will be in the form of written briefs and open meetings.