Academy Conversion

Frequently Asked Questions about MATs for Parents and Carers  

As detailed in the letter sent to all parents and attached to this page, The Bridge Short Stay School have applied to convert to become an Academy as part of The People’s Learning Trust. You will find below a number of frequently asked questions about this process to give further information about academy conversion and what this would mean for the school and students.

This page will be updated as and when further questions are raised with us. Questions or feedback can be sent to

What is a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)?  

A MAT is a Multi-Academy Trust. It is a legal entity that governs a group of schools through members and a board of Trustees.  It is set up by a group of schools, sometimes a local collaboration, that share a common ethos and vision.  

What is the MAT called?  

The new MAT we area involved in establishing is called The People’s Learning Trust

Who is in it?  

The Bridge Short Stay School

Everton Free School and Football College

Impact Sefton

Bidston Avenue Primary 

Meadow Primary 

Oldfield Primary 

Future applications to join the MAT will be considered by The Trust and agreed only when it is felt they will continue to bring further benefit to the established members of the trust.

What does this particular MAT believe in?

All schools involved in the MAT have prioritised a comittment to inclusion and enabling all young people to achieve. The file, available to download from this page, outlines the overarching mission, vision and values for the trust.

Why are schools joining MATs both locally and nationally?  

Across the country Local Authorities are being eroded in terms of size and power. Prior to the election the Labour Party indicated that Academies as part of MATs is their preferred educational structure.  Schools can use the strong collaboration and accountability afforded by the MAT to drive up standards and share best practice and services across the trust, replacing aspects of support that formerly came from Local Authorities but is becoming harder to access as more schools become academies.  

Why would a local authority-maintained school, such as The Bridge Short Stay School want to join a MAT?

 There are a number of reasons why a school may want to join/form a MAT:  

  • Further developing the effective teaching and learning practices across schools.
  • To continue to develop and sustain a high-quality inclusive education for all pupils.
  • Access to a bespoke professional development programme (CPD) that adds real value to the education of the young people, further developing our skilled workforce.
  • Common teaching and learning practices across schools;  
  • A common professional development programme (CPD) that adds real value to the  education of the young people;  
  • Efficiencies in administrative functions and joint procurement; this will help in these more  financially challenging times to advantage our pupils;  
  • Further developing  governance with a clear focus on strategic development,  teaching and learning, and accountability;  
  • Enhanced reputation for excellence, due to collaboration with other schools in the Trust;  
  • Further develop  leadership, management and governance that impacts directly upon the  students;  
  • Recruitment, retention and growth of excellent staff;  
  • Improve and sustain overall academic standards;  
  • Ensure that decisions about the school are influenced at a local level; and,  
  • Secure the long term future of the school. 
  • As a small PRU, currently there can be limited opportunities for staff to work in collaboration with others in similar settings. By joining a MAT with other schools there can be more opportunity for staff to work with others who understand a PRU setting

What are the benefits of being a founder school?

  • A founder school is a school that initiates or joins a MAT at its inception, and plays a key role in shaping its vision, values, and culture. 
  • A founder school has more influence and input in the decision-making and governance of the MAT and can ensure that its ethos and identity are reflected and respected in the MAT.  
  • A founder school can also benefit from the support and expertise of the other founder schools, and from the opportunity to create a MAT that meets its needs and aspirations.

Do we need to get permission to convert to a MAT?  

Yes.  The school has had to obtain the permission of the Secretary of State for Education via the Education Funding Agency (EFA).  We received approval from the Regional Director on the 3rd July 2024

Is there a set model for how a MAT has to operate?  

There are rules regarding how a MAT is funded, but the way in which a MAT operates, its governance structure and vision/ethos are defined by the academy or academies that set up the MAT.  

What will happen to our land and buildings?  

All land and buildings currently owned by the LA on behalf of the school will transfer to the new MAT on a 125-year lease. 

How is funding organised within the MAT?  

Funding for schools within a MAT is allocated on an individual academy basis. It is governed through a master funding agreement between the Secretary of State and the MAT and supplemental agreements between the Secretary of State and each school within the MAT.  

Will the school lose its financial independence and its ability to manage its own finances? 

There will be a common financial procedures manual to be shared between schools but each school will be expected to maintain their own budget. However, there is likely to be some centralisation of finances where these make sense and result in possible economies of scale. This is similar to the financial process used by Local Authorities.  

MAT Structures  

MAT’s are governed by Members and Board of Trustees who delegate certain responsibilities to individual Local Governing Bodies (LGB).  

Will the governors’ role change when we become a MAT?  

When the school initially converts to become an academy trust the existing governors of the maintained schools will stay as governors.  However, some may convert to become trustees of the academy trust.  

What is the new structure?  

When the school converts to a MAT, there will be four tiers of governance.  These three tiers will be:  

  • Members of the MAT - responsible for fundamental decisions such as constitution of the academy trust – most strategic decisions are delegated to the Trustees.  
  • Board of Trustees of the MAT (‘the board’).  These are the  individuals who have strategic overview of the  MAT.  
  • The Executive Team consists of: Central Team: Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Finance and Operations Officer (CFOO) and Headteachers from within each of our Academies. The central team work alongside schools to manage finance, compliance, support school development, support with school improvement and enable the school leaders to focus on what matters most – quality of education and managing staff and pupils.
  • Local Governing Bodies (LGB) for each academy school. In multi academy trusts, each academy will usually have its own LGB. These have a similar status to committees of a maintained governing body and the powers they have are those that are delegated to them by the board.  

Will working with other schools mean lowering our own standards or possibly detracting resources from our own school?  

We have chosen to work together with the other founder schools to ensure that the vision, values and culture of our schools is central to everything that we do. Collaboration and sharing ideas and expertise can only help us improve. Schools will retain their own individual budget, but we are likely to identify cost savings that can be achieved by working together with other schools. 

What changes will children and parents see?  

There will be very little visible change as a direct result of forming the MAT. The Headteacher, staff, uniform, premises and curriculum will all continue to be determined by the school leadership. We are on a continual journey of improvement that involves some change and so, for example, we are looking into implementing a new school uniform from September 2024, but this is a result of our own decisions and not related to academy conversion. The changes that we hope you’ll see will be a general continued improvement in the performance and running of the school and hopefully some new and improved resources and options for our pupils to benefit from.  

Will teachers work at different schools?  

There will be opportunities for staff for training and professional development purposes but staff will remain constant and cannot be forced to work elsewhere. 

Staff will remain in their own schools. Being part of a MAT will provide many professional development opportunities.  Staff from schools who are part of a MAT may attend joint training, skills will be shared and good practice will spread between the schools, this is particularly important to us where in many subjects there is only one specialist teacher and so we will be able to create more opportunities for them to collaborate with other teachers. 

What inspection regimes and assessment data information do academies have to provide?  

All academies are inspected by Ofsted using the same framework and timescales as for  maintained schools.  As a MAT, all schools will continue to be inspected as separate schools.  Results are reported in performance tables in the same way as they  are now, i.e. against the school where tests were conducted. 

Do MAT schools have to follow the National Curriculum?  

Academies within MATs are not required to teach the National Curriculum but rather a broad and balanced one that includes English, Mathematics, Science and Religious Education and promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of children preparing them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.  The  majority of schools within MATs continue to follow the National Curriculum.

Who is in charge?  

The current leadership team of The Bridge will continue to take responsibility for the day to day running of school.

The MAT board of trustees and central team will take on the Local Authority role to provide support to the school and oversee standards across all schools and within the MAT as a whole.

There will be a new Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial and Operations Officer who will have corporate accountability for all MAT operations. Mr Steven Baker OBE, current Principal of Everton Free School and Football College has been appointed the new CEO.

Will you be changing the uniform?  

 Not as a result of academy conversion we are however introducing a school uniform, details of which have already been shared.  

Will you be changing the holidays or length of the school day?  

No – these will remain the same but could change in the future following discussion with staff, parents and other stakeholders in the same way as they would currently.  

When does the new MAT start?  

The planned conversion date is still to be confirmed, but could potentially be the 1st January 2025

How can I comment on the proposed changes to The Bridge Short Stay School?

We’ve set up a dedicated email address for questions and comments in relation to this proposal. You can email these to all of these comments will be seen by the Headteacher and feedback shared with the Governing body.

Files to Download

The Bridge Short Stay School. Appleton Drive, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 7EP

Tel: 0151 245 3877 | Email: