Kettering school wants to join new academy trust

They've announced a plan to join forces with another school

Monday, 30th November 2020, 7:00 am
Southfield School in Lewis Road.

A girls' school in Kettering has revealed a plan to join a new academy trust with a college elsewhere in the county.

Southfield School in Lewis Road, which is currently supported by its own trust, has told parents of their hopes to become a member of the proposed Orbis Education Trust.

If the Department for Education agrees - with a decision likely in the new year - Kingsthorpe College in Northampton would also be part of the trust bringing a formal partnership between the schools.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A letter to parents from headteacher Steph Roberts and chair of governors Chris Drake said: "Rather than join a large existing multi-academy trust and potentially lose some of the unique character of our schools, we want to be the leaders in this process by helping to shape the formation of Orbis Education Trust.

"By joining at this early stage of Orbis’ formation, we will be able to lead the way and retain our school’s individual characteristics, building upon the huge success that we have had and form a strong partnership moving forward."

Both schools have been judged as 'good' by Ofsted. Parents have been told that students will not notice any differences to their daily routine as they will be in the same uniform, in the same classrooms, with the same staff and that the school's name would stay the same.

However the school's website did reveal that they will eventually appoint a new headteacher because Ms Roberts has been appointed as chief executive officer of the new Orbis Education Trust.

The website said the intention is that the trust will remain a local trust and support schools in the area, adding that any schools that want to join will be "considered throroughly".

If the proposal is given the go-ahead the Orbis trust board will be accountable for both schools. Funding would come to the school via the Department for Education with each school responsible for their own budgets. They would pay a ‘top slice’ to the trust to cover shared costs.

One parent of a pupil at Southfield, who did not want to be named, said they were shocked to receive the letter and said one of the reasons they chose the school was because it had its own views.

Outlining the benefits they believe joining the trust would bring, Ms Roberts and Mr Drake said it would give them access to more funding and enhanced opportunities for income generation.

They added that there would be opportunities for sharing best practice amongst all staff and the opportunity to collaborate with other schools that share the same ethos and values.

There would also be opportunities for students to share enrichment activities and the school's website said together members of the trust might be able to offer vocational trips that would not be possible as stand-alone schools.

The letter to parents added: "The governing bodies of the two schools have been discussing in detail how our schools might work in partnership. The trust aims to provide a ‘world class’ educational experience that allows every student to achieve their full potential.

"Teaching and learning will be delivered by an innovative, enthusiastic and well-trained staff. Additionally, all students will be afforded opportunities for personal development outside the classroom. The school improvement system will enable all schools within the group to collaborate and contribute positively, making it truly school-led."

Southfield School has been contacted for further comment.

Anyone wanting to make a representation on the proposal should email the Department for Education on [email protected] by Thursday, December 10.