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Thursday, 15 November 2018 12:56

Leigh Academies Trust and The Williamson Trust - Merger (Takeover) Agreed

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Parents of pupils at schools in the Leigh Academies Trust and The Williamson Trust have now been sent a letter outlining details of the agreed 'merger' between the two Trusts. I have written previously about the proposal, and the letter offers no further information about how the new arrangements will work.

However, the letter is very revealing in one sentence:  'Directors of both trusts and the Regional Schools’ Commissioner have agreed that Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, The Hundred of Hoo Academy, High Halstow Primary Academy, Allhallows Primary Academy and Stoke Primary Academy can join LAT from January 2019'. This explicitly confirms my previous view that this is a takeover, with the Williamson Trust schools about to 'join LAT from January 2019' .

 My previous article explores this takeover that appears to be for the benefit of all schools concerned except Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (known locally as The Math), founded in 1701 following a bequest by its founder 'towards the building and carrying on and perpetual maintaining of a free school at Rochester'. After a series of strong headteachers, culminating in the leadership of Keith Williams, one of the great grammar school heads, it then embarked on an ill judged expansion through The Williamson Trust taking on a number of local schools, several of which were soon in trouble. The Trust was part of the ill-fated Inspire Special School scheme and it has had the Elaine Primary School taken away from it after a government Pre-Termination Warning was issued. This was after a government Letter of Concern about Standards was issued to Elaine, All Hallows and Hundred of Hoo Academies. 

The Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School Trust  is a charity independent of the school, whose main aim is to provide financial assistance and other support for the school. It is a wealthy charity and in 2017 donated £244,677 to The Math (and £200 to Rochester Grammar School), such donations surely making it the richest state school in Kent and Medway. Unusually for an Academy, the freehold for its buildings and land are still owned by the Math School Trust, and leased to the school for a peppercorn rent.  

 The Trust's most recent published accounts for 2016-17 show that it had one of the highest Local Authority Pension Scheme deficits in the county, with two of the three primary schools in deficit. It considered that one of the ways to improve finances is to take the historical reserves from some schools and re-allocate them centrally. I think we can assume this means spreading out the funding accruing to The Math. 

The accounts also describe the Trust's aspirations,  which look very empty in the current context. So: ''Our strategic action plan is ambitious and exciting and reflects our locality and the needs of our young people. The country's education system is in a state of fundamental change as we move to a self-improving system that reduces central government control in favour of an academy-led system. This provides a great opportunity for all of our Academies to take the lead and create a system that our young people deserve'.

In summary, the parents of children at most of the Williamson Trust's schools, can now consider themselves well out of it. It remains to be seen what the Leigh Academy Trust plans for The Math. 





Read 1992 times Last modified on Monday, 19 November 2018 05:25

1 comment

  • Comment Link Monday, 19 November 2018 09:57 posted by Phil

    You previously described this as a humiliation for The Math. I couldn't agree more. Congratulations Dr Gary Holden. I see as your reward for leaving this mess, you have been promoted to become one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. I do feel sorry for Her Majesty and for any school unlucky enough to expect insights from you. PETER: Up first in this area is probably the notorious Oasis Isle of Sheppey. As sole inspector Dr Holden missed the second worst GCSEs in Kent, the second highest number of exclusions, the highest number of children 'electing' for Home Education and the highest number Missing from Education. Still he did notice that attendance figures were low!

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