01. What does DNEAT offer?
- A safe haven for schools wanting to preserve their Christian heritage, ethos and values; maintain their distinctive identity, character and autonomy; prize their place and contribution within the pattern of local provision through inclusive service to their community; and continue to celebrate an holistic approach to educating and developing the whole child.
- A way of maintaining the family of church schools and a church school's place within that family.
- A means for securing sustainable school improvement via schools which are "supporting", "supportive" or "supported".
- The ability and opportunity to make use of services and support provided for other schools in DNEAT.
- The chance to reach out to help other schools through the collective strengths and qualities of those in the Trust, in the best Christian tradition, so as to learn and grow together.
- Somewhere to "belong" alongside other, like-minded schools.
02. If I join DNEAT, won't it mean my school having to give up its autonomy and independence?
- It’s true that, for schools which become an academy within an overarching Trust, it is that Trust which holds ultimate authority and control.
- For schools in DNEAT, that would only apply if the school starts to slip or slide, concerns arise about aspects of its governance, leadership or performance, or if it receives an adverse inspection report (in which case it is likely to be obliged to become an academy anyway). Schools which are deemed “good” or better will enjoy ‘earned autonomy’ and will largely be left to continue running themselves (including appointing their own governors). If the school is running effectively already, DNEAT would not want or need to become more deeply involved or to assume control.
- Depending on their context and circumstances, schools could have the opportunity to negotiate their entry and membership from a position of relative strength.
03. What does "earned autonomy" mean? How will it work?
- Schools which are adjudged by Ofsted to be “outstanding” or “good” will be deemed by DNEAT not to need intervention – although on-going support, care and interest will be available.
- Schools which are judged to “require improvement” will attract targeted support from DNEAT – because they will need to, given their inspection grading. “Requiring improvement” will mean what it says, which is why the Trust will need to step in to work with the school to help bring about the improvement required and support its journey back up again.
- For schools placed in an Ofsted category (and those assessed as being at significant risk of being placed in a category in the lead-up to inspection), DNEAT will use its powers of intervention in order to transform the school, improve its circumstances, and working with governors and staff, lift it out of its category.
04. What about denominational inspections (SIAMS or Section 48)?
- A similar pattern to above will exist. Schools which are “good” or better will not require intervention support from DNEAT (although support will be available and offered).
- For schools which are “satisfactory” (as that is the category description retained for SIAMS), there will be targeted support to help them improve and develop as a church school.
- If a school is adjudged to be “inadequate” as a church school, DNEAT will arrange intervention support for the school to improve and develop its distinctive role, purpose and identity as a church school.
05. What about my school's budget? Won't it have to be handed over to the Trust?
- Academy Trusts can assume control of a school’s budget as part of their role of overall authority and accountability. DNEAT’s aim is to negotiate this with each school according to its merits and circumstances. In some cases, the Trust will need to assume control in order to deliver the improvement sought. In others, DNEAT will negotiate a subscription to the Trust or will pool resources for the collective good through the agreed contribution of a support fee.
- Schools joining DNEAT will need to accept that a financial contribution will be sought, and required so that the Trust can grow, thus enabling it to serve and support its members through the services it can then afford to provide. This won’t be able to happen without a contribution from all who belong, and the chance to grow the Trust to the size and capacity required to make it sustainable and of real value to schools will be lost.
06. What will be the expectations of membership of DNEAT?
- Schools in DNEAT will be expected to accept and abide by the values of the Trust. This is integral to being part of the Trust. DNEAT’s values are clearly set out in the prospectus, and demonstrate how inclusive values and service to the community will be realised within a Church of England Diocesan Academy Trust.
07. Is there any difference between VC and VA schools joining DNEAT?
- VA schools convert on their present constitutional basis, irrespective of their current inspection grading.A further consideration for Voluntary Controlled (VC) schools is whether to consult about taking on Voluntary Aided (VA) characteristics as an academy. There is no compulsion to do this. VC schools ordered to become a sponsored academy should include this proposal in their consultation.
08. Can any school join DNEAT? If so, how?
- Membership of the Trust is not automatic - although, in principle, the invitation and opportunity is open to all. Some schools may be required to join as a consequence of inspection outcomes. Others may be admitted by invitation or negotiation. DNEAT is available to all schools, in principle, if they’re interested in joining but, As the Trust is a Diocesan one, it is predicated on being there for church schools in the first instance if they need it or if they’re interested.
- DNEAT must balance the composition of the Trust with what its capacity will realistically allow it to take on. The decision whether to admit a school will rest with DNEAT (not the DBE). The Trust will assess the school’s sustainability, its viability and the extent to which DNEAT can make the difference required, while remaining mindful of the impact on all members of the Trust.
09. Is DNEAT intended to be only for schools which are adjudged to be "failing", are in an Ofsted category or "require improvement"?
- Absolutely not. DNEAT has been established and designed so that it appeals and applies to strong, effective schools too. We want to attract good schools to join, in order to achieve a balance within the DNEAT family and fulfil its aim and mission to be there for as many schools as possible. This will enable all the Trust’s schools to flourish and improve together through mutual support and belonging.
10. What about capital funding?
- Under present arrangements, capital funding for academies must be sought direct from Government by individual bid. Church schools which were formerly VA [Voluntary Aided] will no longer be eligible to access funding through the conventional LCVAP route.