What is a trust school?
- A foundation school supported by a charitable trust
- Primary, secondary or special
- May be part of a local or wider group
- Is its own admissions authority (but must abide by the national code)
- Funded like other maintained schools i.e. receives its funding from the local authority (LA) on the same basis as other LA schools
- Employs its own staff
- Controls its own assets, land and buildings.
What is the trust?
- The trust is a charity
- It is non profit-making
- It could have external partners such as companies, HE/FE institutions, charities or voluntary groups. The government has ruled out participants such as companies involved in gambling, alcohol, etc.
- Trusts have seats on the school governing body and can have a majority
- The trust is not obliged, or expected, to make financial contributions to the school
- Not democratically accountable to local voters
What are the claimed benefits of trust status?
- External expertise involved in running the school(s)
- Freedom from local authority control
- Freedom to determine best use of own assets, including finance
- Stimulates innovation, energises management
- Greater flexibility and control
- Employs its own staff
- Raises standards
- To consolidate new or existing relationships with commercial partners
What’s in it for sponsors?
- Commitment to education
- Helping to address skills shortages
- Influence over a school’s ethos
Questions of concern to staff of schools contemplating trust status
Trust schools must comply with the national School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document but the Governing body can set their own terms and conditions for support staff. Voice supports the establishment of a national scheme of pay and conditions for support staff and not the fragmentation of current LA pay and conditions.
Teachers’ conditions of service are also governed by the Burgundy Book and by local agreements. Staff will want to ensure that the governing body are adopting all such agreements.
During the consultation stage it is essential to question the governing body on its attitude to support staff pay and conditions:
- Pensions. Teachers’ pensions should be unaffected and responsibility passes from the LA to the governing body. For support staff there is a formal transfer process to be undertaken and it is right and proper to question the governing body on its intentions in this respect.
- Governing body. It is possible for a single organisation to gain control of the governing body and the land, curriculum and other assets. Voice members will need to question the governing body in this respect in order to be reassured of its intentions.
- Cooperation with other local schools. Voice members may wish to ask the governing body its policy in cooperating and working with other LA schools
The governing body must hold a consultation meeting for all staff.
Use the consultation process to question the governing body on areas of concern to staff:
- Will the governors at least retain the current pay and conditions of support staff? (They could improve them.)
- Will the ethos of the school change?
- Will the trust have a minority or majority on the governing body?
- What arrangements will the governing body make for consultation with its staff?
Ensure that the governing body will recognise all trade unions that are already recognised by the LA. Voice: the union for education professionals may or may not be recognised by your LA. If not then we would seek recognition with the governing body.
DfE: Trust Schools