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Why become a Vine academy?

Academies are independent, state-funded schools, which receive their funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority. The Vine provides a safe home for all Diocese of Chelmsford Church Schools.

Academies have more freedom than other schools to innovate. For example they can opt out of the national curriculum.

Academies are run by Headteachers who know education best. They are overseen by the Vine trust board. The Vine provides advice, support, expertise and a strategic overview.

Headteachers, middle / senior leaders and teachers make the biggest difference to the education of pupils. Therefore, the Vine has a policy of growing and developing leaders of the future with a career pathway from NQT to Headteacher. The Vine provides matched funding to train the leaders of the future.

Vine provides excellent opportunities for schools / academies to share good practice, learn from each other and achieve economies of scale.

Why join the Vine?

A safe haven for schools wanting to preserve their Christian heritage, ethos and values; maintain their distinctive identity and character; 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 academies in the Vine.

The chance to reach out to help other schools / academies 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.

If I join the Vine, 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 academies in the Vine that would only apply if the academy 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 obliged to become an academy anyway). If the academy is running effectively already, the Vine would not want or need to become more deeply involved or to assume control.

All academies within the Vine are involved in shaping the future. The Headteacher Academy Leadership Board have the opportunity to shape Trust Policy.

The Vine want to promote academy individuality. Each Vine academy needs to serve its local community. This is achieved through policies that allow individuality.

Who will make decisions affecting the running of my school?

The Headteacher will run the academy just as at present. Headteachers know the school / academy best and are in the best position to make good local decisions for the benefit of local pupils.

Governance is the responsibility of the Trust Board. However, this will be delegated in full or part (depending on performance) to either a Regional Board or a Local Governing Body depending on the local circumstances. Headteachers will report to these just as at present.

The curriculum remains the responsibility of the headteacher.

Who will make decisions about recruitment?

The Vine Board appoint the headteacher of each academy with the support and advice of the Local Governing Body. All other recruitment decisions are delegated to the Headteacher / Local Governing Body.

What about my school’s budget? Won’t it have to be handed over to the Trust?

Academy Trusts can assume control of the budget as part of their role of overall authority and accountability. However, unless there is cause for concern, once the membership subscription has been deducted, the Vine will delegate the budget to the local level to be controlled and spent as at present.

The Vine does require some pooling of resources for the collective good and for resources to be available if an emergency arises.

Schools joining the Vine 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 academies will be lost.

The Vine holdback 5% of the GAG funding. Of this approximately 3% is spent directly back on Vine academies and 2% on providing the core central services that benefit vine academies. Because of our collective bargaining the Vine provides these services to its academies at a much more favourable rate than can be obtained by schools on their own. The holdback is less that many local authorities within the Diocese of Chelmsford. As a consequence all Vine academies receive more of their budget to spend on pupils.

Can VC , VA, Foundation and Community Schools join the Vine?

Yes - the Trust will welcome an application from all schools, however membership of the Vine is not automatic.

The governance model of the Vine Trust Board is based on a VA model to enable all schools to join.

All Vine academies will retain their existing religious character.

Is the Vine intended to be only for schools which are adjudged to be ‘failing’, are in an Ofsted category or ‘require improvement’?

Absolutely not. The Vine 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 Vine family and fulfil its aim and mission to be there for as many schools as possible. This will enable all the Trust’s academies schools to flourish and improve together through mutual support and belonging.

There are a number of ‘good’ schools who have already joined the Vine.

What are the implications for school staff?

Instead of being employed by the Governing Body or Local Authority all staff are employed of the Diocese of Chelmsford Vine Schools Trust.

The Vine have made a commitment to be a good employer. Therefore they intend to apply the STPACD and will recognise previous and continuous service.

On joining an academy all staff go through the TUPE Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) process. This protects employment rights when employees transfer from one business to another. The terms and conditions of employment of the transferring employees are maintained when a business is transferred to a new owner. The employees’ continuity of service is preserved as well as the original terms.

When a school becomes an academy, they must continue to provide access to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) for teachers. Support staff continue their membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), in a similar way to teachers in the TP

What about denominational inspections (SIAMS or Section 48)?

A similar pattern to above will exist. Academies which are “good” or better will not require intervention support from The Vine (although support will be available and offered).

For academies 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 an academy is adjudged to be “inadequate” as a church school, the Vine will arrange intervention support for the school to improve and develop its distinctive role, purpose and identity as a church school.

What about capital funding?

Academies will continue to receive their Devolved Formula Capital as at present.

Working with the Diocesan Schools Advisor Vine academies have access to capital funding from the Education Funding Agency.

Nationally about 25% of these bids are successful. Last year the Vine achieved funding for more than 50% of our bids. 

VA schools are no longer required to contribute 10% to capital projects or to pay VAT.

Resources

Our Academies