Frequently asked questions page

Q. What is an Academy?

An academy is a government funded school that is independent to the local authority.  An academy is still part of the community and serve children and families in that area. They retain the same responsibilities as any maintained school as part of the learning community.

Q. How is an academy different to a local authority school?

In terms of the day-to-day functioning, an academy school is not noticeably different to a Local Authority maintained school. 

Responsibility for funding the school, monitoring performance and any capital projects falls to central government rather to local government. 

Being an academy does not mean that the character, nature or ethos of the school changes at all. Academy status gives schools additional responsibilities, and also greater freedoms:

  • Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum
  • Can set their own term times. 
  • Still have to follow the same rules on admissionsspecial educational needs and exclusions 
  • Academies get money direct from the government, not the local council. 
  • They’re run by an academy trust which employs the staff.

Q. What is an Academy Trust?

When the decision is made to transfer to become an academy, the school and governing body form what is known as an academy trust, which is a charitable company. 

Our charity trust board is made up both from governors and other trustees specifically recruited for the skills they bring to the trust. 

Our academy trust is managed by members of the Academy Trust Board, who are partly drawn from the original governing body. There are additional responsibilities for the trust board, in that they have to make sure that accounts that comply with the Companies Act and the Charity Commission are filed every year.  The academy trust has a lease from the local authority for the land and buildings for 125 years. 

Q. What is a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)?

A multi-academy trust (MAT) is a formal collaboration between two or more academy schools, where all of the schools in the trust are overseen by a single board of trustees. Schools in a multi-academy trust do not need to be the same type of school. For example, primary schools can be in a multi-academy trust with secondary and/or special schools. Once established, multi-academy trusts are able to grow if more schools wish to join.

Q. Who runs a MAT?

The Board of Trustees runs the MAT and is directly accountable to the secretary of state for education.

The Executive Headteacher and Heads of School contribute to the leadership of the whole group under the leadership of the Board of Trustees.

Each school continues to have its own Local Governing Body (LGB). Above the Local Governing Bodies is The Trust, essentially functioning as one board of governors overseeing the local boards. They are the main decision-making group and accountable for all schools within the Trust. 

The Trust consists of Trustees, specifically selected for their skills, tasked with ensuring the excellence of all schools and delegating powers to the local governing bodies. As with governors, Trustees receive no remuneration for their function and serve as volunteers for our charitable endeavour. 

Trustees come from the original LGB as well as through a recruitment process to secure key skills on the Trust.

Above the Trustees sit Members. The Trust is a registered charity. Members function as founders and shareholders of the Trust, but absolutely no financial benefit is obtained. The Members create the charitable trust because they believe in the vision and values and methods of this enterprise and are responsible for appointing the Trustees and ensuring the success of the Trust at an annual general meeting.

Q. What is ‘sponsorship’?

The National Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education (DfE) encourage outstanding schools within MATs to become ‘sponsors’; to take on failing schools and  raise standards  and the quality of teaching and learning, if the trustees determined it is the right decision to make.

As an outstanding school and a National Teaching School, Tyntesfield successfully applied for sponsorship status. 

Q. Are academies profit making?

Academies are NOT profit making. No one can make any money from the company. The company is limited by guarantee. It does not pay dividends and makes no profit. It is however a legal entity and will mean that the school is able to enter into contracts, employ staff and be recognised as a legal body. 

Q. Do Academies have to follow the National Curriculum?

Academies do not have to follow the National Curriculum so being an Academy provides us with further exciting opportunity to determine the curriculum to best meet the needs and interests of our children. However, as with community schools, we will still have to provide a balanced curriculum and will be judged against national standards.

Q. As academies, would we change the length of school terms and school days?

The Department of Education say that an academy can vary the length of the school term and the school days. However there are no plans to do that. We are aware that parents have made arrangements for childcare, and often have work arrangements to fit round school day and school terms. Parents and children at other local schools would not appreciate this school taking an arbitrary decision to change the school holiday dates as it would have an impact on siblings. We are also aware of the impact this would have on staff too.

Q. Have admission arrangements changed?

As a community school’s admissions arrangements are set by the Local Authority, and the LA also decides which pupils should be offered places at our schools. We are committed to these principles and the current admission arrangements remain in place. If for some reason an academy wanted to change its admissions arrangements in the future, consultation would be required and would still comply with the Admissions Code.