Radical proposals to separate Melton Vale Post 16 Centre (MV16) and Belvoir High School, which are both currently part of the single Belvoir and Melton Academy Trust, have gone out to consultation.
The proposed new arrangement would see MV16 join the Mowbray Education Trust - a multi-academy trust which currently has responsibility for Melton’s John Ferneley College and four primaries - Brownlow and The Grove in Melton, Ab Kettleby and Somerby.
Belvoir High, in Bottesford, is being proposed to join The Priory Federation of Academies Trust - an overarching multi-academy trust which currently has three academies in Lincoln and one in Grantham.
A multi-academy trust is a group of schools working together and collaborating, often sharing leadership and resources, but with the schools retaining their own individual characteristics.
In a public letter, published on the Belvoir and Melton Academy Trust’s website, the trustees claim the new arrangement would ‘ensure the financial viability’ of both MV16 and Belvoir High and secure their long-term future.
MV16, which currently draws most of its students from within the Melton Mowbray area, has about 460 students on roll. Belvoir High has about 550 pupils on roll.
The letter says: “Changes in personnel, funding and a need to be future focused have led the trustees to look at the potential future of both centres. The trust has focused on ensuring the best outcomes for all students and had sought to find a long-term solution that can meet the demands of a quality educational provision and financial viability moving forward.
It adds: “The recent Ofsted inspection of May 2015 concluded that MV16 was ‘outstanding’ and Belvoir High School was ‘good’. Exam results for both centres in 2015 were excellent which is testimony to the hard work and dedication of staff and students.
“However, both centres face financial and operational challenges and the trustees are conscious of the national education policy that sees schools working within multi-academy trusts as a natural progression.
“Logistically the difficulty of running two centres over such a significant distance (17 miles apart) also has to be reviewed.
“Movement of staff between centres is a major overhead. The distance is such that staff cannot realistically travel between the centres within the school day.
“Therefore the trust now proposes that each centre should join with a suitable multi-academy trust in order to ensure financial viability.”
In respect of MV16 the trustees said its potential joining with the local Mowbray Education Trust would ‘make sharing resources more flexible and realistic’ than at present, ‘efficiencies would be more readily available’ and the move would ‘reflect a greater degree of continuity for students transferring from Long Field Academy or John Ferneley College’.
In January, as reported by the Melton Times, the Belvoir and Melton Academy Trust had invited staff at MV16 and Belvoir High to apply for voluntary redundancy to help reduce a potential £500,000 funding shortfall by 2018.
A statement provided by the trust at the time said it was ‘continuing to investigate ways of reducing the deficit with as little impact upon students and staff as possible’ adding that any decisions it made would be ‘based on ensuring that we continue to provide first-class teaching and learning for our students.’
A consultation document published by the trust, in respect of its new proposals, said budget-saving measures had already been taken but it added that, in the current climate, action already taken was ‘simply not enough’ and that the financial viability of its current arrangement ‘is not sustainable’.
As well as improving financial sustainability, the trustees claim there would be numerous benefits to MV16 and Belvoir High joining their respective new multi-academy trusts including increased opportunities for all staff to develop.
But among the downsides of changes to the current set-up could be that staffing structures may be reviewed - with any decisions being made by the new multi-academy trust.
The Belvoir and Melton Academy Trust has stressed that no decision has yet been made on its proposals and that, as part of any changes, Belvoir High School students would still have the opportunity to transfer to MV16.
A six-week consultation on the trust’s proposals is now underway. Subject to approval, the new arrangements would be in place by September 1 this year.
Open meetings giving people the chance to have their say on the proposals will be held at MV16 on Tuesday, May 3, at 6.30pm, and at Belvoir High School on Thursday, May 5, at 6.30pm.
People can also submit their views by emailing email@example.com or in writing to: Company Secretary, MAT Consultation, Belvoir High School and Melton Vale Post-16 Centre. Barkestone Lane, Bottesford, Nottinghamshire, NG13 0AX.