Uttoxeter Learning Trust - Multi-Academy Trust

As you may be aware, the governing body of Picknalls First School has applied to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010. We are hoping to become a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) by joining with several other local schools.  This is known as the Uttoxeter Learning Trust (ULT).  On this page you will find news and information on the development of the MAT.


Uttoxeter Learning Trust Multi-Academy Trust Schools 

The schools below are all current members of the trust:

Ryecroft Middle School


Will Picknalls First School definitely become an academy?

The governing body has submitted an application to convert to academy status and is working towards conversion on 1st February 2017.  However, the school is not obligated to become an academy until the contract between the academy trust and the Department for Education (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed.  The governing body has not even begun to negotiate the Funding Agreement with the DfE yet.

The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of pupils at the school, staff at the school and pupils themselves have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals.  All parents and carers were invited to a meeting on 28th November at Thomas Alleynes High School, to learn more about the proposals  to become an academy, or to comment on the proposals.

Any comments or representations which are made about the proposals will be considered by the governing body before a decision is taken to sign the Funding Agreement.  Details of how to provide comments and representations are set out below.

The governing body will not sign the Funding Agreement until they are content that conversion would be in the best interests of the school taking account of all the legal and practical ramifications.

What is an academy?

An academy is essentially an independent school which is funded by the state. It is independent of the local authority and receives its funding direct from central government.

Previously academies have tended to replace schools which have poor results or otherwise needed to improve.  Under the Academies Act 2010, all schools are able to become academies.  As Picknalls First School is a "good school" we have been able to apply to form a Multi-Academy Trust with schools within the Uttoxeter partnership.  In this first phase these schools are: 

  • Thomas Alleynes High school
  • All Saints Church Leigh First school
  • Hutchinson Memorial First school
  • Windsor Park Middle school
  • Picknalls First school

Discussions are underway within the existing Uttoxeter Learning Partnership who are looking to join the MAT in coming months.  

What are the benefits of being an academy?

  • academies are independent of local authority control - this means that academies have more freedom about how they conduct themselves
  • academies receive their funding direct from central government - this means that academies receive more funding because none is retained by the local authority for the provision of central services
  • academies have more freedom over the curriculum taught - this means that academies do not need to teach parts of the National Curriculum which they do not consider is appropriate for their pupils
  • academies can set their own pay and conditions of service for their staff - academies have the freedom to alter the pay and conditions of their staff (subject to normal employment law protections for staff) and so can provide staff with better pay and conditions than previously 
  • academies have more freedom to undertake innovative projects - academies are companies and so have more freedom to undertake innovative projects, such as setting up and utilising trading subsidiaries

Are there any disadvantages to becoming an academy?

As an academy we will be directly liable for matters such as insurance, employment liabilities, pensions, health and safety, and, property maintenance.  However, as mentioned above, academies receive more funding from central government to help them meet these additional costs.

Will the admission arrangements change?

As a community school, admissions arrangements are set by the local authority and the local authority decides which pupils should be offered places at school.  As an academy, we will be in a position to put in place our own admission arrangements, and decide which pupils should be offered places in accordance with those arrangements.  The academy will still be bound by the national admissions code, and Admissions Appeals Code.

The current admission arrangements will remain in place for the time being.  If the academy wanted to change its admission arrangements consultation would be required.

Will Picknalls First School change?

We want to continue to be an excellent school. We therefore do not intend to change Picknalls First School except in ways which we think will improve the school even more.  For students, it is unlikely that they will see much, if any, change to their day to day school lives.  Academies do have the power to vary their curriculum's and vary the length of the school day, however we do not intend to take such steps at this stage and would engage with parents/carers, staff and students if we ever intend to make such changes in the future.

How can I find out more?

There is information about academies on the DfE website.

If you cannot find the answer to your question here or on the DfE website please email office@picknalls.staffs.sch.uk and we will try to assist.

How can I make representations?

To respond to this consultation on whether the conversion of the school to academy status should take place:

Representations can be made in writing to: Picknalls First School, Oldfields Road, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, ST14 7QL

or email: headteacher@picknalls.staffs.sch.uk

The closing date for representations to be made is Saturday 7th January 2017.