Veritas MAT

Welcome everybody,

Mundella joined the Veritas Multi Academy Trust (MAT) in 2021. 

This particular trust aligns itself with the philosophy and ethos of Mundella and, furthermore, how it encourages it's schools to maintain their unique character and presence within the community they serve.

The Veritas MAT vision is to provide 'irresistible learning for all' and an innovative, inspirational and inclusive environment.

This is an exciting time for us all and will see Mundella Primary School grow in strength and continue to provide for the families of Folkestone for many years to come.

Mr Westmorland

Getting Involved

We are looking forward to welcoming you all to get involved the Trust, either through meetings, communicating via email or personally and chatting to members of staff and governors. Or perhaps you may like to become a governor yourself? Doing so will allow you to share in and develop the main strategies and actions that will help Mundella Primary School and Veritas Multi Academy Trust be the best that it can be.

In order for the next steps in our future to be successful, it is important that you get involved and take the opportunity to contribute to the process as much as possible.

School Contact

Email - office@mundella.kent.sch.uk

Call - 01303 252265

Trust Contact - Governance Professional

Email - stephanie.sheppard@veritasmat.co.uk

Why and How we became an Academy

Although disappointed by the final grading from our most recent Ofsted, the notion of considering becoming part of a Multi-Academy Trust has been in our discussions and a realistic part of our strategy since I started at Mundella Primary School.

(more information here)

The government continues to drive the academisation agenda even though it has become an understandable and less notable priority for them. Regardless of this it remains a realistic prospect for all schools throughout the UK.

Many schools would normally be forced to become part of a Trust should they find themselves in a sustained and vulnerable position (Ofsted, SATs etc). Although we are at risk (Amber within the County) we are not currently in that position. However, if we were in a similar state we would have little opportunity to hold a decision making stake in the process of selection.

Mundella, because of it’s size and location, is likely to always remain balancing on a fragile edge between short term success and immediate challenge. In order to gain the experience and additional support; that is not always available (or suitable) from the LEA, being part of a Trust can bring considerable strength, provision, financial sustenance and capacity for growth; a level of support that does not reliably come from options such as collaboration and federation.

Who are Veritas?

 Our vision is to make learning irresistible for all pupils across our trust schools. Our ethos is to grow a family of schools that work together to be innovative, inclusive and inspirational.

 Our ethos is to grow a family of schools that work together to be innovative, inclusive and inspirational.

Read more about Veritas here

Our schools maintain a character that is rooted in their community. This makes each school distinct, while sharing core values and benefiting from joined up ways of working. Sharing  the best practice across our schools to strengthen the outcomes for our children.

Above all, we want our children, our staff and our communities to feel the excitement that education brings. This is achieved through connections and networks both within schools, across schools and beyond the trust. Building a culture of outward facing research-informed practice in all we do.

We thrive on educational networks. Through the links with Canterbury Christ Church University and the Chartered College of Teaching, we lead on research practice across East Kent. Providing opportunities for staff across our trust and beyond to deepen their evidence informed practice through research groups and events including teach meets and journal clubs.

We have also formed a network of trusts that support one another, providing a wider family of support for our schools. This has connected staff across our schools to other trusts, building relationships and widening the network of professional conversations across Kent.

If you would like to find out more about Veritas MAT, please talk to me. Whether you are a parent of a child in one of our schools, a member of the community our schools serve, or a potential employee interested in joining our family of staff.  

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Kerry Jordan-Daus, CEO

Veritas Academy Trust - Home (veritasmat.co.uk)

Follow Up Questions and Answers from Veritas

The following questions and answers may contain lots of technical language specific to education. Please feel free to ask if there is an element that you need help to translate.

Mr W :)

The % fee, is this a one off and Mundella gets access to all benefits, or does each area require further % for SLA (I.T/H.R/staff development/finance etc.)?  

The fee is an annual fee. As a Trust, we take what is called a ‘top slice’ of the delegated budget (General Annual Grant). This Funds the Trust staff and systems and pays for the Trust staff who in turn work alongside the headteachers to support school improvement and business functions. Our philosophy within Veritas MAT is that ‘the school is the Trust and the Trust is the school’. With this in mind the top slice is seen as a fund that supports the school leadership and while the money goes to the Trust budget, this provides quality support back to the school. Funds also provide opportunities to across schools to develop supportive mechanisms, as an example, when a school finance team is stretched, Trust staff can be placed in a school to support, building a network of support. Our school leaders in the Trust really appreciate this flexibility of support as it helps during strategic pinch points, this has been especially beneficial during the Covid-19 crisis. 

How would you utilise strengths of staff already existing in a school, where you have a more ‘trust’ wide model eg lead teachers/ DSLs etc  

Veritas MAT thrives on developing people. Our talent pathways programme looks at using staff across the trust to mentor and train others. We have an open culture of sharing practice across our schools and the wider network of trusts we work with. Mundella have many strengths that will benefit our Trust. Mr Westmorland’s experience in leading two primary schools will be invaluable to support our system leadership across trust schools. Further strengths could be used with Mrs Wharmby’s SENd experience working alongside three SENd professionals in the Trust; both supporting and gaining support from this network. While Mr Blanche’s work on ‘Madmatics’ would be of interest to our maths teams.  

We have also found that the support of the DSL teams across our schools has been a real strength and reassurance, with further support from the CEO for complex referrals. Building this team of DSLs with Mundella will enhance our network of safeguarding professionals, allowing strategies for sharing best practice. 

Based on what you know about our school and last Ofsted, what would be the managements priorities for Mundella?  

In short, our vision for Mundella is that the school needs to be at least good.  This is our vision for all schools in Veritas MAT. As a lead Ofsted Inspector, I will coach the school leaders to ensure the next inspection outcome will be strong. The first step is to address the key areas for action outlined in the report and I will work with the headteacher, governors and leaders at every level to support this journey; building a robust action plan that is owned by the school and relevant to the context of its families and children.  

How does the MAT communicate and consult with families?  

Predominately, this is the role of the governors and school as you best know your community.  We share policies and practice so where relevant, however, our standard practice is to ensure we do not undermine the relationship that the school has with its parents. Governors are the key to this communication and continue to play pivotal role in ensuring the school leaders have strong relationships with their families. The governors will continue to provide the voice of the parents to the school leaders and we encourage parents to sit on the Regional Governing Body. The Trust does, however, support school leaders with the more complex communications including parental complaints. 

What services would Mundella School receive in return for its financial contribution to the MAT?  

Services are broad as the trust works closely with school leaders, as such the CEO and Trust Business manager will provide support where needed by schools. Wider support includes: 

  • Ofsted training for senior leaders and governors; 
  • deep dive mentoring for subject leaders; 
  • research mentoring for all staff; 
  • team leadership for business teams (finance, office and estates); 
  • Ofsted inspection support; 
  • appraisal and pay award training and quality-assurance; 
  • appraisal of staff on the leadership scale; 
  • SCR reviews; 
  • headteacher coaching; 
  • senior leader meetings and training; 
  • research training programmes for staff; 
  • senior staff leadership training; 
  • financial training and support; 
  • coordination for financial audit; 
  • preparation and submission of financial accounts; 
  • finance processing support; 
  • talent pathway support for career progression of all staff; 
  • quality assurance of strategic planning; 
  • gallery learning (a system of learning from one another’s practice); 
  • supported monitoring for governance; 
  • mentoring on diploma level training for teaching assistants and volunteers; 

If you are identified as the MAT we wish to progress discussions with regarding joining you, what is the next stage in the process?  

We will work with governors and school leaders to undertake the process called due diligence. This will provide you with a roadmap for conversion and ensure both you and the Trust complete the statutory consultation and legal steps necessary for a smooth conversion. 

We have plans to make physical changes to our site, in particular the change of entrance to the school, would you be able to accommodate this and how would any changes to the site be handled in the future? I'm thinking about the air raid shelter/playground here.  

The Trust will submit bids to the DfE for major works. The Trust manages building projects on behalf of the school to allow the headteacher to continue to focus on the quality of education. We cannot guarantee these works will be commissioned by the DfE but we have had great success over the past three years in being awarded three major bids for capital projects for our schools. 

What’s the plan for the future?  

Our 2025 vision is to have every child taught in a school that is at least good, and to build a network of six like-minded primary schools. Our Trust will grow and our vision for Mundella is that it will continue to strengthen and be the lead school in a hub of three primary schools in the Folkestone area. Our governors and trustees are currently consulting on our 2025 Vision as we believe this should be owned by all our stakeholders and be a document that reflects our collective vision rather than impose this on schools. We look forward to Mundella’s involvement in shaping our future vision. 

May we see your Scheme of Delegation document?  This sets out the responsibilities and working methods of the Mat and its board of directors, as well as a plan for the future.  

This is published on the Trust website and can be accessed here. This page will also provide you with other key documents on how we operate as a Trust. 

Our 2025 vision document is currently under review, but I will copy the draft document to you. This shares the long-term vision of our Trust. 

You’ve got to see the business plan – it’s where power sits in that trust. If they don’t have a business plan for at least three years, don’t join.  

Our strategic plan is built as an annual plan and we would be happy to share this with you. Our 2025 Vision statement outlines the five-year plan for the trust.  

How would joining affect teaching staff, contracts of employment would transfer to the MAT? What are the implications of this, would it be used as an opportunity to restructure staffing? Presumably they don't want to duplicate functions and responsibilities across the MAT, would job descriptions be re-written as part of the incorporation?  

From our experience of conversion, we intend to convert under TUPE transfer arrangements. This will be explored in detail during the due diligence and consultation stage of your conversion and will involve union consultation. We have a process where we will discuss the alignment of staffing structures and salaries during this process, but it is our principle that staff will not be worse off as a result of conversion. Job descriptions will be re-written in consultation with the headteacher and governors according to the staff’s roles and responsibilities. This takes place as part of the appraisal cycle and after wider discussions with school leaders to ensure roles and responsibilities are accurately reflected in the documents.  

As part of Due Diligence process, under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006) would there be need a to consult on some policies such as Pay Policy?  

Yes. The due diligence and consultation process will ensure HR and Finance policies are reviewed by the unions and governors. Our HR and Pay policies align well with current LA policies so we have found this process is relatively smooth at point of transfer. 

Can we visit one of your schools?  

In non-Covid-19 times this would be welcome, however our current risk assessments in place limit external visitors. If a visit is essential, then I am sure we could organise a virtual visit to get a feel for our schools. However, our school and Trust websites offer a helpful insight to our schools. They also demonstrate the level of alignment across schools and the differences that are celebrated to ensure our schools remain relevant in the context of their communities.  

Will Veritas be swallowed up by a bigger MAT? 

No. We are a small MAT and Mundella will have a significant stake in its future growth. We have a strong relationship with the DfE and have been awarded ‘Sponsor Status’, allowing our trust to sponsor schools that are not yet good to join our trust. This demonstrates the DfE’s confidence in Veritas MAT s not all trusts are awarded Sponsor Status.  

In order to be strong as a small MAT, we have formed the Kent MAT Alliance, a group of ten multi-academy trusts.  This brings strength in numbers for us and the other trusts involved; helping us to be future proof and failsafe.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Here are all of the questions and responses from the consultation meetings.

  • FW = Mr Westmorland - Headteacher
  • GC = Mr CHisnell - Previous CEO of Veritas

You had worked with another school – have you learned anything during that process which would help with this process for us.

That was a school from another Trust which was rated inadequate so in a different position from Mundella. We learned a lot including building opportunities for staff to work collaboratively. We found that where meaningful links were made work was made simple and more productive e.g., finance –we now have a network of finance staff who can support each other through cross collaboration.

How much autonomy would Mundella retain in terms of structure and direction.

FW - each of the schools in the Trust were distinctive and different – they maintained their own practices where they were working. There would be encouragement for us to share our strengths and expertise. Significant levels of autonomy e.g., we can manage our staffing structures.

GC – the school staffing structure is the headteacher’s role. There would be cross Trust working where appropriate e.g., Business manager may direct finance staff across the Trust.

Will support staff pensions be affected?

No, the same pensions for teachers and support staff will continue as now. Same opportunity to contribute to local pension scheme.

Finance role – how would the support from Trust work?

E.G. Back-office functions – where Mundella was currently buying in support from LA there would be more realistic support from Veritas. Payroll – Veritas would take over administration. We would talk to Mundella staff re their wishes. Trust business manager will work with local finance team to look at issues. Staff across Trust can support when things get very busy e.g., audit can share staff to help out. Makes staff more efficient / do not have to buy in extra support.

Will staff contracts change?

No as part of the TUPE process terms and conditions transfer with you.

Will support staff be expected to work in other schools?

FW - no one would be forced to do this. We would be our own school. There would be opportunities to work in other schools if you would like.

GC - we do not move staff between school but if there is an opportunity we would offer within the Trust.

What will happen to our pay scales?

No change at transfer and nothing will reduce.


Is it really necessary to become an Academy if things are going well?

FW - The government plans that all schools would ultimately join a Trust. We wanted to choose our Academy rather than being put in one. We will be able to share what has gone well in Mundella and the other schools in the Trust, and any others that may join.

Will changing to a trust affect children with SEND , those with an ECHP?

FW - We would see only further improvements in this support which is highly valued by parents and carers. It is a high priority for the Trust.

Will admissions for Reception age children continue via Local authority?

FW - This will remain as at present, with the usual process which would include the Three Hills open day.

When would Mundella join the Academy?

FW - Officially this would be from 1/9/2021. This was a very thorough process which we were confident would be complete by that date.

What plans were in place to maintain our good financial position as we become part of an Academy?

FW - Whilst there would be an element of overall funding going to the Trust as the alternative to Local Authority, the school would retain its capacity in terms of spending locally as it sees fit.


Whilst the enthusiasm and ambition for school was recognised and supported, but there were a number of processes to go through e.g. transfer of school land and assets, irreversible change of category. Could we have a response to the following -   

What are the levels of Reserve for Capital works within the Trust  and what works would Mundella be supported with?

FW - We have had a plan for making improvements for school since FW arrived ; We have improved the site and we have spent £60K on works. We had made sure that we had the finance in the budget as no support from KCC (3 years ago). An alternative access to School premises was our priority, although we had already installed additional security cameras etc at school costs in current layout to improve the current access. However we had only been offered a low- cost loan to undertake the works from KCC rather than any direct capital finance support. We are very good at managing the school finances.

GC - (CEO) In terms of land and buildings, KCC retains ownership whilst we lease the asset and have ongoing responsibility for that asset.  LA has a pot of money for maintained schools only. As a Trust we have already won two significant bids for Capital works and have a good relationship with funding agency. In terms of Capital reserves – we do maintain appropriate level of reserves as required.

From experience of local academies  what will happen about Uniforms? In Mundella jumpers need to be bought but everything else will be bought from local supermarkets, will this change?

FW - We do not plan to make changes except as consequence of normal change.

SEND? Is there a Plan for funding additional support for SEND pupils and additional support for EHCP requests?

FW - We have a very strong leadership team in school managing SEND – funding allocation would not change, and we would be maintaining the high level of support as now. High Needs top up funding would continue to be successfully applied for.

A Lot of money was needed for school, Mundella is an old school where KCC has current duty – what would happen if major work was needed how would Trust cope and deliver this.  Would any Parents fund to stay with school?

FW - We do not currently have parents fund . Any such money would be retained within the school, any fundraising for Mundella  would stay in school. We support other schools through teacher exchange and support and this will continue with the Trust. Some academisation has not been good for the individual school; this is why our process had been so diligent. As a small school could be made to undertake a forced academisation – in this way we can find the right partner for the school.

GC - Buildings. Should there be major works required the Trust is allowed to go for an emergency fund (DFE) We would be able to apply for fund as with the local authority.

What would the contingency position be if school had to be evacuated?

FW - Current Disaster recovery plan would be unchanged in most ways so any temporary accommodation would be local through current agreements.

If the parents, after more consultation, come out against academisation what would happen?

FW - A solid reason would need to be in place ; forced academisation would not offer choice. Mundella is ‘amber’ risk in terms of Ofsted.

Renting the buildings etc? Assets of Mundella would become part of the Trust?

FW - We have to have the assets as we are legally liable for them with a 125 year lease. We can’t sell buildings etc. We would continue to have a positive relationship with the LA

Disappointment that we’re not with local schools e.g. after school clubs? Any sharing envisaged?

FW - We work in partnership with local schools already; sharing resources – we had theatre group which we shared with local schools no differentiation as to LA or academy.

Has Saga been in contact recently?

FW - Yes, welcome donations. May be other items also!

We get huge support we get from families showing we’re part of the  community. Saga have also supported us with catering equipment. Business have been very supportive to Mundella.

Community support / family support very positive but in terms of longer- term future for school. This would be a MAT with one outstanding school plus second with school in difficulties. How has Pilgrims Way attendance improved?

FW - We will have strength in unity. Pilgrims Way is already on it’s journey. Warden House has been completed the journey from RI to Ourstanding. The Pilgrims Way inspection report noted was prior to taking on the school and we were asked to take this school on. Attendance has improved and we, in fact, had an Ofsted Covid inspection when it was commented on how different the school felt from previous time.

As Veritas is a small Academy… how would increasing size affect Mundella?

FW - We plan to stay as a small Trust and are not hungry for growth; we envisage working with like- minded schools where we could work well together. If we get enough pupils could be self- funded as a Trust. Our model is up to 9  schools over number of years. We are not having conversations with other schools currently.

What is the road map for Mundella to become an Academy.

FW - Conversion date for 1.9.2021

Coming out of the pandemic Mundella School is in a very deprived area e.g. lack of technology and therefore contact with pupils during lockdown – will the Trust look at an amalgamation of technology and face to face teaching.

FW - Trust wants each school to be what they want to be within their own community . At Mundella some of the funding has already been used for technology – there is now a digital device for all children in school plus devices for those who are not in school. These are being individually set up for the children and will go through the school with them.

Mundella is lacking in outdoor space – will there be additional enrichment activities within the Trust?

FW - Outdoor learning and enrichment activities are predominantly on school field but we have also been to other sites including the beach / Harbour Arm. We were planning to have our own school minibus but this has been delayed due to lockdown so we have instead enriched the school field site  including firepit and terraced seating to high safety standards. Each year group would have 10 weeks per year of OLE. There would be Opportunities  to share with Trust schools.

What are implications for professional development days and how would you measure the impact on children?

GC - Each school has own development days plus trust wide development days e.g. curriculum research and development. We share excellent practice – this strengthens outcomes. Mixture of school- based and trust wide based training and development. We’ve done 3 ‘teachmeets’ this term digitally which were different but engaging. Senior leaders were currently working together on leadership programme.

RSCs might try to merge smaller Trusts into larger Trusts – might you have to be merged at some point?

FW - We needed to make a proactive move to be part of a Trust we had chosen.  This Trust would resist this potential move if not in the best interest of the school. Veritas Trust values aligned to Mundella.

Both my children love OLE . Minibus transports only 15-20 people – would you consider a larger bus?

FW - No, this size is the most appropriate for transportation – parking issues / insurance issues. OLE is half a class at a time so would work well with this. Could also be used to lower costs for trips.

Will you retain our governors when you transfer?

Gov - We would retain a local governing body for the school, recognising that the governors know it well.

Gov - A Regional governing body specifically for Mundella would be retained – curriculum, standards and quality.

As governors what do you feel about losing oversight of certain areas?

Govs -We didn’t feel we would be losing any monitoring and support activities we currently undertake.


Conversation re measures letter - concerns

5.14 concerns that only statutory redundancy .

GC - Staff would be dealt with on individual basis. We adopt the blue book. No intention to move away.

Could you confirm that gross weekly wage would be the basis? (TBC)

Rescind current Union recognition?

GC - We do have Local representation in our schools – not lack of engagement.

6.3 ‘will rescind it’

GC - we do not have current agreement

Someone who has already Served probationary period as part of NQT would have to serve a further 8 week probation when starting at school?

GC - 8 weeks probationary period would be in place. Allows them to have a period of reflection. Safeguards current and newly appointed staff.

Without recognition how do you know that staff are happy with this approach?

Staff recognition allows reasonable conversation with management.

We Recognise no need for local recognition but without collective bargaining cannot have these conversations, therefore, would the MAT be prepared to enter recognition agreement with Unions in the future?

Depends on size of organisation we become. We are growing with like- minded schools. Once we have 6 or so schools – may be diversity of schools and would then have agreement in place.

Aggregated continuity of service for new employees?

New Trust redundancy and appraisal policy – are any on sponsored visa? no

Has Trust been accepted as sponsor organisation – yes

Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

Term / Acronym

Meaning

Academies

Academies are publicly funded independent schools. They are all ability schools established by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups. Academies have different governance arrangements to other schools. An academy’s Funding Agreement sets out the details of the governance arrangements for each school.

Articles of Association

The Articles of Association set out regulations for academies, including the composition of the governing body.

Board of Trustees

Refers to academy trusts and MATs only

Collaboration

An agreement between two or more schools to work together on one particular issue. They keep their individual governing bodies, but may set up a joint committee to which they can delegate powers.

DfE

Department for Education

The government department responsible for schools and children (formerly DCSF)

DSG

Designated School Grant

Funding from central government to the local authority, the majority of which is then delegated directly to individual schools through the LA's funding formula

EFA

Education Funding Agency

It is responsible for all revenue and capital funding for schools.

Federation

Two or more LA maintained schools governed by one governing body

Governing Board

An overarching term which refers to both the board of LA maintained schools (governing bodies) and academies/MATs (board of trustees).

Instrument of Government

A legal document setting out the name of the school and the constitution of the governing board.

Local Authority (LA)

Local authorities (LAs) are part of local councils, i.e. borough, county, metropolitan and city. Within local councils, LAs are accountable for early years education, schools, adult education and youth services. Community, foundation and voluntary schools are funded directly by their LA.

MAT

Multi academy trust

Where two or more academies are governed by one Trust (the Members) and a board of Directors (the Governors).

National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL)

The organisation responsible for national training programmes for school leaders, aspiring school leaders and teh development of leaders of Children's Services. In particular it is responsible for the National Professional Qualification for Headship, the Chairs of Governors Leadership Development Programme and Clerks to Governing Bodies Training Programme.

Ofsted

Office for Standards in Education

The body which inspects education and training for learners of all ages and inspects and regulates care for children and young people