Feedback

Do leave comments or ask questions of the CET and MET trustees using the Leave a Reply box below. You will need to provide your name and email address although only your name will be shown in the comments thread. Please indicate in your email your connection to CET or MET (e.g. parent, staff member, student, LGB member or a member of the local community).

We will aim to respond to questions or comments within 24 hours.

53 thoughts on “Feedback

  1. I watched the Qs and As tonight but still feel very worried that MET and CET, while both outstanding are very different in their approaches and also vision. I know that the trusts want to reassure and move in from this point but IVC in particular stands out as a rare example of a secondary school that had truly put real inclusion at the heart of what they do. Our son has thrived in their nurturing and creative environment with the vertical tutoring and support that he has had it his subjects. I feel that outstanding outcomes for students at IVC means far more than just academic results. The ICAS Wednesdays have been brilliant. Even though it has been said repeatedly that the merger doesn’t mean individual schools need to change their approach, the reality tends to be different as the academy chain will have an overarching ethos in terms of what the priorities are. The CEO is coming from CET, and Qs and As have felt more CET than MET, with two of the three people coming from CET. As an IVC parent, is there a guarantee that IVC will remain as inclusive as it is, not start excluding pupils, keep the 3 year GCSE, keep ICAS and continue as it has been. It’s a very unique school and many, many parents will not want that to change.

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    1. Thank you for your comments and for taking part in the Q+A session yesterday. I think there were more CET parents attending than there were on 18 June when questions were much more from MET parents. The merged trust going forward will have a near balance of trustees from the preceding trusts – the chair will be the chair of MET and the Deputy CEO will be the current Principal of IVC.

      The primary motivation of the trustees of both CET and MET, in pursuing a merger, is to ensure the autonomy of each of the schools in the trust and their ability to meet the needs of their local communities most effectively. Moreover, the trustees have take considerable pains to ensure that the ethos and values of the enlarged trust are based on principles of inclusivity and access for children of all abilities, aptitudes and aspirations.

      The trusteees of MET in particular see the proposed merger as the best way to preserve and enhance IVC’s character and ethos. Part of this will be through the active and accountable local governing body at IVC (and equally the LGBs at the other four schools in the enlarged trust) which provides a forum and conduit to trustees to ensure the the values and ethos of the school are protected and promoted.

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  2. I am a parent of three students at IVC. I have so many questions to ask about this merger, and had hoped that there could have been a consultation and forum for questions before any decisions had been made. It seems that, after the meeting tonight, the merger will move forward without an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on what is presented, nor any follow-up opportunities for influencing the decision. I have read all your reassurances about protecting the ethos of each school, which is extremely important, and I do hope that this will be the case. The timetable of the merger concerns me because many of us are caught up in a new world of working from home whilst supporting home-schooling and dealing with other Covid-19 related problems. However, it is the practical implications for the students of IVC that is my primary concern because they are the ones “at the coalface”. I am hoping that tonight’s presentation will answer many of my questions, but here are just a few:
    1. What power will the new trust have to influence or control any decisions made by Ryan Kelsell on how he runs the IVC?
    2. How will the arts subjects/extra-curricular activities be improved for IVC students; will there be more lessons by more specialist teachers and will they be able to use the facilities at Chesterton? What difference will the students see?
    3. How will the welfare of students and staff improve and what extra services and facilities will they receive? For example, will ICAS on Wednesday afternoons continue in its current form?
    4. Will the policies at Chesterton. eg. of early school starts, short lunchbreaks and long lesson times be brought to IVC?
    5. Will there be any change to the high level of teaching at IVC or to the successful vertical tutoring system?
    I look forward to hearing the answers to these questions and many more tonight.

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  3. This is rather confusing as to whether questions for tonight are to go to the email address given or via this Feedback page. Therefore I’m doing both!
    I was intending to join the Zoom meeting tonight, but unfortunately now can’t for family reasons.

    Some of these questions I have asked already via this page but they have not been specifically answered and I would like to be addressed in the public meeting/forum:

    1. Exactly what alternatives were considered (other Trusts to merge with)?
    2. Why was CET the preferred partner over other Trusts?
    3. Did the Trust consult the LGB of all the schools to canvas their views on alternative partners, PRIOR to the decision being taken?
    4. Did the Trust consult the Heads of all the schools to canvas their views on alternative partners, PRIOR to the decision being taken?

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  4. From viewing the joint website recently, and communication via H&I village Facebook page, this is clearly going ahead in September, to the timescale dictated, despite plenty of challenge and concern expressed on this Q&A feedback page and requests that this be delayed for a year so due diligence and meaningful consultation can be carried out. The feedback to those requests is not convincing.

    The letter sent out to IVC parents the day that schools closed indefinitely and lockdown started (some could say conveniently, as meaningful consultation is now not possible) said that these were proposals only and in normal circumstances a series of meetings would be held for discussions and feedback. The consultation with staff, parents, governors and students was supposed to take place in April. It is now mid June. The letter also says that ‘To be really successful, a merger needs the informed support of all these stakeholders’.

    Parents of IVC students would naturally like to know that the Senior Team and Local Governing Body of IVC were consulted on the plans prior to these proposals being written. We are being held at arms length from hearing from the very people that lead our children’s school, as they are not included in the Zoom Q&A Consultation session. We would like to know that they are supportive of these proposals.

    The Head of Chesterton has no direct relationship with me or the students of IVC at this present time. This Consultation should include those with current responsibility for the day to day management and running of our school and its current governance. Those who are proposed to lead the larger Trust are not yet in position and the Trust is not formed.

    As a stakeholder parent it is strange not to have had any communication direct from my child’s Local Governing Body or Senior Leadership team. From other stakeholder feedback on here I am clearly not the only one that feels this is being pushed through by a few individuals, particularly when the questions are all being answered by the proposed Chair of Trustees of the larger Trust and the proposed CEO.

    For the reasons queried above, for clarity, I would like to know who the ‘We’ is who have made the many decisions referred to in the responses to feedback questions.

    I ask that IVC stakeholders hear direct from The Head and LGB of IVC that they support these proposals.

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    1. Thank you for your comments.

      You ask about why the trustees are not considering a delay in the merger. As set out in the letter to parents dated 24 May:
      The difficulty with delay is that it would create a state of limbo for both trusts at the start of the new academic year which would either last for the whole year or require a complicated mid-year changeover. It would be difficult for either trust to take new educational initiatives, since the context of those decisions would be uncertain. Moreover, if we believe that the merger would bring benefits to students and staff, delaying those benefits seems undesirable.

      Answering your various points about the consultation process:
      * There are Q+A sessions for parents and stakeholders on 18 and 30 June.
      * There have already been extensive meetings with staff, local governing bodies and trades unions.
      * The future roles of members of the IVC senior leadership team have been discussed and agreed with them.
      * It is essential for parents and carers to be able to hear from the proposed chief executive of the enlarged trust and have an opportunity to ask questions of her about the future direction and management of the trust. Questions specifically about IVC and its internal management or local governance can be addressed to the senior leaders at IVC or the local governing body directly.

      The senior leadership of IVC is not responsible for the direction and strategy of the Morris Education Trust which is proposing to merge with Cambridgeshire Educational Trust. The proposed merger has the unanimous support of all the MET trustees (and those of CET).

      The MET trustees believe that this is an excellent opportunity to protect and enhance the vision and ethos of the Morris Education Trust by merging with a like-minded local trust of similar size with engaged trustees and capable executive leadership.

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  5. My daughter is currently in Year 6 and will be joining IVC in September. Having gone through the secondary school application process this academic year, consequently visiting both Chesterton and IVC, I have heard first hand how the leadership at both schools reflect on their schools, the opportunities for the students in their care and the schools’ place in society. The emphases were vastly different and made preference choice a very easy decision for our family. Both IVC and Chesterton have admirable reputations but the ethoses expressed are very different and consequently they appeal to different families. I fail to see how the truly individual characters of these schools can be preserved by a merger of the Trusts and consequently the result will be a reduction of choice for local parents. Given the proposed management structure, I fear it will be the uniquely inclusive community at IVC that will lose out.

    I note that it was via a community Facebook page that I heard about this proposed merger. As a parent of a child already offered a place at the school I am perplexed that I, and others in the same position, was not notified. Are we not stakeholders? Which other interested parties have not been addressed? The push to “consult” through the current situation of limited school access and social distance is not a means of building trust with parents and students. I feel strongly that this is the wrong time to be moving towards a merger.

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    1. Thank you for your comments.

      The primary motivation of the trustees of both Cambridgeshire Educational Trust, responsible for Chesterton Community College and Downham Market Academy, and the Morris Education Trust, responsible for Impington Village College and Witchford Village College, in pursuing a merger is to ensure the autonomy of each of the schools in the trust and their ability to meet the needs of their local communities most effectively. Moreover, the trustees have take considerable pains to ensure that the ethos and values of the enlarged trust are based on principles of inclusivity and access for children of all abilities, aptitudes and aspirations.

      The trusteees of MET in particular see the proposed merger as the best way to preserve and enhance IVC’s character and ethos.

      I’m not sure which primary school your child attends, but all local primaries have been sent the letters to parents & carers for distribution to parents in Year 6. The most recent of these sets out why the trustees believe that pursuing the merger at the present time is in the best interests of pupils, staff and local communities:

      A number of people have asked if this timescale makes sense in view of the challenges created by the Covid-19 crisis. The trustees have thought carefully about this. The difficulty with delay is that it would create a state of limbo for both trusts at the start of the new academic year which would either last for the whole year or require a complicated mid-year changeover. It would be difficult for either trust to take new educational initiatives, since the context of those decisions would be uncertain. Moreover, if we believe that the merger would bring benefits to students and staff, delaying those benefits seems undesirable.

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  6. I write with concerns about the proposed merger of the trusts. I chose to send my 1st child to WVC as it is a smaller secondary school with a family feel, something I am very concerned would be diminished withing a larger trust situation. I believe in the ethos and vision of the school and have been impressed by the changes which MR Baxby and his team have implemented in his time at the school.

    At present WVS has solid links with IVC, something I feel would be a shame to loose. I believe that WVC is more akin to IVC than Downham Market and again this concerns me.

    At present WVC has a broad and balanced curriculum with a variety of end qualifications, suited for a range of children, both academic and more vocational – my choice to send my second child in 2 years time may be changed if these options were to be removed. Each child must be seen as an individual on their own learning journey, a vision and ethos which the senior leaders strive for at WVC – again my concern is that this will be removed within a large trust. I feel strongly that autonomy for the school needs to be maintained to allow senior leaders to make the best choices for the children within their school, being as they are the ones on the ground, and in line with this would like reassurance that there would be consultation with all stakeholders before any changes were made to in regards to curriculum or the running of the school, if a merger were to go ahead.

    The changes, staffing, curriculum, behaviour expectations, new uniform, quality of staffing and teaching etc which have been introduced by Mr Baxby have not had time to come to their true fruition yet, particularly in light of the current crisis. More changes in September, for the pupils and staff, would be hugely detrimental when I feel as a parent the school is making great strides in achieving the aims set out by the senior leaders and therefore should be allowed to continue unaltered. I would be very concerned about my child returning to massive changes when things are already very unsettled at this time. It also surprises me that the merger is still being considered at this time when many will be already stretched and may not get a full opportunity to comment on the proposals.

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    1. Thank you for these comments to which I will respond in the same order.

      The trustees of the Morris Education Trust are determined to preserve and enhance the unique ethos and culture of both WVC and IVC. This was the primary reason for seeking out a merger with a like-minded, local trust where the enlarged trust will have these values at its heart moving forward. The WVC leadership team have done an excellent job on refocusing the school on delivering the best possible experience and progress for all its pupils.

      WVC and IVC share a common heritage as village colleges founded on the principles of Henry Morris’s 1924 Memorandum – these principles will be part of the vision and ethos of the enlarged trust. That said, Downham Market Academy has characteristics that it shares with WVC and there will be opportunities for the two schools to share best practice.

      The executive leadership of both Morris Education Trust and Cambridgeshire Educational Trust are committed to delivering a broad and balanced curriculum in all schools in the enlarged trust. This is more easily done in a larger trust with greater resources to deliver specialist education.
      There is no intention to erode the autonomy of school leaders at WVC but the enlarged trust would offer them school improvement capacity to help deliver the best possible education for the pupils in their care. As you say, it is for leaders at WVC to make the appropriate choices around curriculum and how best to run the school and the trustees and executive leadership of the enlarged trust will support them in making those choices most effectively – only intervening if help is needed.

      The trustees and executive leadership of MET and CET want to continue the school improvement journey started by Mr Baxby and keep any adjustments or other changes to the minimum necessary to achieve the objectives he set at the start of the journey.

      The trustees have set out the rationale for pursuing the merger on the current timetable in the letter to parents and stakeholders sent out on 24 May.

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  7. The proposal for the new Trust has no detail on the:
    * Governance arrangements
    * Financial plan
    * How the Trustees and Chief Executive will be held accountable
    by the local communities and to parents of the various schools.

    Whilst most of the local community’s attention is elsewhere, it appears to be a clique of current Trustees and Chief Executives expanding for the sake of expanding, with all the identifiable benefits accruing to the trustee body.

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    1. Responding to your questions:

      1. You can find the current governance arrangements on-line for CET and MET – the arrangements are broadly aligned and will be reflected in the governance arrangements for the merged trust.

      2. Both trusts are solvent and in surplus (see annual report and accounts for CET and MET) – the financial plan for the merged trust is a confidential document but there are no plans for a reduction in provision or staff.

      3. Accountability of the trust board and CEO is compliant with the DFE Governance Handbook and the scheme of delegation to local school governing bodies, which include parent-elected governors, is here.

      You make some assertions in your final paragraph about the motives of the trustees and executives which are ill-founded. The rationale for the merger is set out here and amplified here. The trustees and executives have no personal or pecuniary interest in the merger.

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  8. A month ago Martin Rigby replied to my comment about lack of scrutiny saying “we will be writing to parents and stakeholders next week with some further news about the merger and more opportunities to provide feedback”. It’s all gone very quiet. I have heard nothing more as a parent of IVC. Can I assume that the voices on this feedback thread have been listened to and you have decided to postpone the decision to merge?

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    1. Thank you for the comment – we’re writing to all MET parents this weekend with information on further consultation during June.

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  9. Chesterton and Impington have completely different cultures, both educationally and pastorally. I know, I have two boys at the former and close friends who have children at the latter. In any such merger, one or other party will disproportionately exert its influence over the other and in my view it would be a very great shame if any such regrouping significantly changed the way Impington educates and looks after its students. It is, after all, one of the last colleges to still adhere to some, at least, of the brilliant Cambridgeshire educationalist Henry Morris’s principles – values that most other schools hereabouts have long since abandoned. What, if any, reassurance, can be given here?

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    1. Thank you very much for your comments.

      Your concerns are shared by the trustees and local governing body members of all five schools in the trust (including The Cavendish School which already has a community of supporters and teachers working to bring it to fruition). No-one is going into the merger with any intention of creating ‘a one size fits all’ culture or approach to education.

      The trustees of both the merging trusts have made the values and vision of the new trust central to their deliberations. First, in agreeing common principles around inclusivity and the encouragement and nurture of all children irrespective of their needs or aptitudes. Secondly, they are agreed that the unique culture of each of the four schools in the enlarged trust will be valued so that they can best match the needs and aspirations of their local communities – a principle central to Henry Morris’s vision for the village colleges.

      Finally, the trustees see the central purpose of the merger as preserving and enhancing all that is excellent about Downham Market Academy, Chesterton Community College, Impington Village College and Witchford Village College by creating an alliance of like-minded but distinctive schools that can best serve the children and adults of their local communities.

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  10. The values and ethos of the two trusts are not as clearly aligned (or are not felt/experienced to be in practice) as the proposal sets out. For those who are happy with the approach that IVC takes, there must be a very significant risk through this merger. I chose to send my child to IVC because of its ethos. I did not choose to send my child to a school that has a different approach. I would not want the IVC ethos, and the day to day application of that ethos, to be diluted in any way.

    Mergers of central services cost money in the short term, and don’t save it. What protections are there for pupils/parents that the curriculum, level and quality of teachers etc will be maintained or grow in the short to mid-term during this period?What evidence is there that teachers will be more attracted to stay / move to an enlarged Trust and that staff turnover is significant due to the two Trusts’ sizes at the moment?

    No specifics are provided to give parents a sense of what the changes will actually mean for their children, or the timescale for changes. What disruption will be experienced by the pupils during the changes? When will any benefits materialise? How will the day to day running of each school operate in the short and longer term? Where a parent identifies a leadership team committed to their pupils and engaged with the community, this is a key concern – how much will the implementation of changes change these teams and thus risk a change to the level of ‘service’ and trust already in place? These are critical factors when evaluating a response to the consultation.

    Protecting the quality of the curriculum and ensuring pupils will be able to continue to access it across the breadth of creative and performance arts, languages, sports etc is identified as a component of the expanded trust. This is absolutely crucial. There needs to be a commitment that in the larger trust this will not be lost and that the larger academy trust will be loud in preserving these and support access to these areas for those who are – outside school – not easily able to access them. Without this the trust would not live up to what is set out in the proposal. This also means guarantees that pupils will not have to travel long distances to access particular areas of curriculum from one school in the academy over another (this is particularly relevant for the 11-16 provision).

    What is the impact of this merger on the surrounding area and schools outside of the Trust(s)? Has there been an equalities impact assessment on factors affecting groups within the existing Schools and on schools in the surrounding areas that will remain outside of the Trust.

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    1. Thank you for this comment and full set of questions.

      The enlarged trust will protect the values and ethos of each of the schools in the trust and is in the process of adopting a common approach to this which will be overseen by the trustees and members.

      We do not intend to alter current subject choice in any of the newly merged schools, only to enhance it. As we have previoulsy stated, we fully intend to protect and sustain the unique ethos and identity of each school. Experience in both CET and MET shows that a well-led trust increases the retention of excellent teachers by offering them greater opportunities and broadening the scope for their professional development.

      Our due diligence processes include assessing the potential impact of the merger on children in the trusts’ schools and then identifying any steps necessary to ensure that the impact is beneficial to them.

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  11. I have a child in year 9 at IVC, and my older child finished there in July 2019. I have every confidence in the leadership and governance of the school, and although I don’t have the experience to comment on the same at CET, I expect the same values and commitment to excellent student experience and outcomes are common to both trusts.

    However, these are truly exceptional times during which it is really important to pause, question and review priorities in order to make the right choices in the right context. I am sure that the judgment in aiming for a merger in September 2020 was well thought through up to a few weeks ago, but the world has changed unrecognisably and will look different for many months ahead. There cannot be a meaningful consultation in the current climate. The ongoing priorities for this year must be localised for staff and student wellbeing, support and education, and the ongoing planning, implementation, changing and adapting of all the underlying technology, communication and learning systems this needs. To have the senior staff and others distracted towards a merger, rather than providing the stability of dedicated clear leadership at this time, is potentially damaging to all and a real concern. Communication from IVC to parents has been noticeable by its absence over the last few weeks, when compared to other schools, and I am now wondering whether the merger is the reason.

    I am not against the merger in principle, but I would urge you not to plough on with a deadline regardless, just because one senior individual is leaving their post to relocate. Parents, students and staff need to understand fully what is happening, both with the familiar in this time of crisis and with the new when it is time to move forward with longer term plans, and need to feel confident that the right informed decisions are being taken.

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    1. Thank you for your comments.

      The trustees and leaders in both trust are priortising the delivery of education to all of the pupils in the trusts at all times. This includes avoiding any unnecessary distraction from the merger process which will not have any significant impact on front line staff per se.

      We are proposing to widen the scope of stakeholder engagement with the merger proposals and will be writing to parents and stakeholders about this shortly.

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  12. Like many others I am very concerned at the timing of the proposed merger. I have been a parent at IVC since 2014 and in all that time I have been impressed by the school and very pleased with its ethos, especially its inclusivity, and the opportunities the students receive to widen their knowledge and to do their best. My children have benefited from some exceptional teaching from really dedicated professionals.

    Since the lockdown began I have been really worried. It is understood that these are challenging times for everyone but in my view the home learning provision from IVC has not so far been impressive (crucially lacking in any element of ‘real time’ engagement with the students) making it very hard for students to stay motivated. In addition there has been very little proactive communication from the school. It feels as though focus must be on the proposed merger- not on the challenge posed by the current lockdown and ensuring the best possible experience for current students. These should surely be the non-negotiable priorities for any school at the moment. As disruption to face to face schooling looks likely to be an ongoing long term issue I would like a lot more reassurance about how IVC is going to deal with it. It really doesn’t feel like the right time to be making a significant change to governance and structure.

    Big changes like this are never going to appeal to everyone- but allocating time to deal with your stakeholders and creating opportunities to allow them to engage with this would be more successful than trying to push a change like this through at the moment.

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    1. Many thanks for your comments.

      The overriding priority of both trusts is the education of all of the pupils across the trusts’ schools. This includes avoiding any unnecessary distraction from the merger process.

      We are proposing to widen the scope of stakeholder engagement with the merger proposals and will be writing to parents and stakeholders about this shortly.

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  13. The MET/IVC has such a unique ethos and philosophy going back so far, its emphasis on the whole community, roots in the village college movement, its unique internationalism and the way it embraces diversity and an all round education so wholeheartedly. It really is a community treasure and this merger could pose a real threat to that. I attended IVC to study International Baccalaureate and it had a huge influence on mu worldview. As a parent of a child with autism I was involved in the early stages of the proposal for the Cavendish School and I worry that the founding intentions of this school within the larger landscape of the trust could be lost. My mixed heritage children are due to go to IVC when they are older. I had always looked forward to their opportunity to be part of this very international community institution yet also part of a village college. I am extremely concerned that by the time they get there its ethos will have been lost and swept up in that of the other schools. Chesterton has a reputation for not placing the same emphasis on such important matters and being much more about the academics alone. I have also heard anecdotes from other large Cambridge multi-academy trusts of students having to shuttle across Cambridge between two secondary schools to cater for this “specialism” depending on which options they chose. This merger could lead to IVC students having to commute to Chesterton if they wanted to study further with certain subjects, which would further weaken the village college setup.

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    1. Many thanks for your comments. I and all the other MET trustees share the value you place on IVC. At the heart of the structure and values of the proposed new trust, Lifelong Learning, is protecting and developing the values of inclusivity and access which have given IVC its culture and prompted MET to set up TCS.

      We would not be recommending the merger unless we were convinced that the result will be enhanced provision and opportunity for all children in the four schools for which the enlarged trust will have responsibility post merger and the two new schools in the pipeline (TCS and the Cambridge Maths Sixth Form). We would certainly look to use the increased flexibility offered by a larger, but geographically contiguous, trust to enhance the range of subjects on offer and without requiring pupils to shuttle from one school to another.

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  14. I, like the majority of the other commentators, are surprised that this is being pushed through at this time with minimal ability to properly consult and widely feed back, and when the first communication to parents came out days before lockdown.

    Some of the responses to feedback on this page seem to be generalised. I would be interested to hear exactly how ‘the merger will strengthen IVC’s ability to preserve and develop its unique approach to education’ and why, without the merger, IVC would ‘have to water down its ethos or its commitment to its core values of internationalism, inspiration and inclusivity’.

    Having been a parent of IVC students for seven years, including a few years as a parent governor, I know from personal experience how genuinely inclusive IVC is, and yet still manages to balance that and be a top performing school. The use of the core principals of the IB programme throughout the school is exceptional. Anecdotally, Chesterton has a reputation for being ‘selective’, although I am sure that will be denied. I have a real struggle understanding how the ethos of the two Trusts align and how merging will affect the positive direction of IVC.

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    1. Thank you for your comments.

      The trustees of both trusts are committed to enabling effective stakeholder engagement about the merger proposal – hence this website at a time when face-to-face meetings are impossible. We don’t anticipate that the merger will be completed before the end of the summer, so it should be possible to widen the consultation process to include face-to-face meetings. We’ll update parents and other stakeholders on this a soon as we are able to.

      The answer to your request for more information on ‘[how] the merger will strengthen IVC’s ability to preserve and develop its unique approach to education’ and ‘[why without the merger, IVC would] have to water down its ethos or its commitment to its core values of internationalism, inspiration and inclusivity’ can be best answered in detail by a meeting with me and/or the Chair and CEO of CET. However the general point to make is that there are few MATs of similar size to MET with which we can merge and be confident of having a key role in the strategy and running of the merged trust and be geographically coherent with the catchment areas of MET’s schools – strategic objectives set by the MET trustees two years ago. We can clearly achieve those objectives by merging with CET but would have to compromise on one or both if we were to merge with any other MAT.

      The intention of the trustees of both trusts is to adhere to core values which are consistent with those each trust had prior to any merger. We have put considerable thought and effort into this and are pleased to have reached a consensus that doesn’t involve any watering down of the ethos and values of MET. Moreover, it is worth pointing out that Chesterton has delivered outstanding results for disadvantaged children on the Progress 8 measure of education value (0.2) and a higher propotion of its pupils are disadvantaged compared with IVC.

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  15. I am concerned at the timing of the proposed merger. It is a significant move for all the schools concerned and I would question whether it is appropriate to be contemplating this now at a time of such uncertainty . It would be beneficial if all stakeholders could be given the opportunity to consider the
    proposed merge more fully when the schools reopen.
    I am the parent of a year 7 student at IVC who accesses the outstanding SEND provision at the school. He has an EHCP and his needs are complex. I work in special education and campaign on disability issues. I am painfully aware that the quality of SEND provision around the country is inconsistent. My own experience is that the ethos of the school is profoundly important in the delivery of high quality SEND provision. Inclusion only truly occurs when it is embraced by the leadership of the school. I believe what is in place at IVC is remarkable. Inclusion is embedded in the culture of the school. My son’s needs are too complex for him to attend a ‘typical’ mainstream secondary. He is thriving at IVC because the staff have the skills to meet his needs and the ethos allows him to be included as a valued member of the school community. I am extremely concerned that the proposed merger may compromise the excellent provision that is currently in place for my son. I hope this is not the case. IVC has demonstrated over many years that it is possible to have outstanding exam results and provide excellent SEND provision. In this respect, it is a model of good practice which should be replicated elsewhere. I would be interested know more about the implications for SEND provision if the proposed merger were to take place.

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    1. Thank you for these comments. The trustees of both trusts believe that pursuing the merger notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic is the best course for the pupils of all the schools in the trusts.

      As mentioned in a previous repy, one of the benefits of the merger will be to strengthen IVC’s ability to preserve and develop its unique approach to education and not have to water down its ethos or its commitment to its core values of internationalism, inspiration and inclusivity.

      We value inclusivity particularly highly and I would be happy to arrange for you to discuss the specifics of your son’s circumstances with the SLT of the enlarged trust if that would be helpful.

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      1. Thank you for your response to my concerns about how SEND provision might be impacted by a merger and I appreciate the offer of an opportunity to discuss the matter further at some point.

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  16. I am a parent at IVC. I am concerned about the timing of this change. I don’t think that an adequate consultation can take place during a global pandemic. How many comments have been received to date? This feels rushed. What will be the impact of this be on IVC? Will the ethos of the school remain? The inclusivity? iCAS? The 3 year GSCE course? The compassionate culture? IB? The world is very uncertain right now. What are the risks of this merger? What are the risks of not merging? I think this important decision should be postponed and considered again later when an active consultation can take place.

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    1. Thank you very much for your comments and feedback.

      Taking your points in the same order. As we’ve said in previous responses, the trustees of both trusts grappled with the issue of timing, but came to the conclusion that it was the right time to merge in order to provide a better education for our students notwithstanding the challenge of engaging with our key stakeholders in this difficult period.

      You ask about comments received. On this website we have had 8 comments from parents and stakeholders to date (24 April). We’ve also had a few comments sent by email or via the trust websites.

      One of the benefits of the merger will be to strengthen IVC’s ability to preserve and develop its unique approach to education and not have to water down its ethos or its commitment to its core values of internationalism, inspiration and inclusivity.

      There is a fuller discussion of the factors affecting the merger in the Proposal section of this website including the risks both of going ahead and not doing so.

      Finally, we will be writing to parents and stakeholders next week with some further news about the merger and more opportunities to provide feedback.

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      1. Thank you for responding. I think your answer about the number of comments received speaks for itself. Right now this proposal will not get the scrutiny it requires. On top of that it could divert resources away from dealing with the challenges of schooling during a pandemic. When you made the decision to proceed, the world thought that we would be in lockdown for a few weeks. Now it seems likely we will have significant disruption for the rest of the year and possibly into 2021. I think you should reassess the proposed timing.

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      2. Thank you for your supplementary comments.
        The trustees of both trusts are committed to effective stakeholder engagement on the proposed merger and we will shortly announce some further opportunities for parents and other groups to communicate their views.

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  17. Some further comments and questions on the proposed merger, based on my perspective both as a Chesterton parent and from my experience as a qualified teacher. Views are mine and mine alone and are intended to stimulate some further debate on the proposal via this site.

    I am not particularly enamoured with the general move in Education towards multi-academy trusts. An inordinate amount of money is spent by successive Governments on changing education structures, yet there is limited evidence that I am aware of that being a part of a MAT format has made any real difference to the overall quality of education standards, any more than schools provided in the maintained sector.

    Part of the Government’s scheme for MATS as you indicate is to encourage growth and adoption of further schools into MATS and it is an incentive for trusts to take on new schools to access the shared funding. At present both CCC and IVC each support a single regional academy, which seems a reasonable set up. However, there is concern over how quickly the growth of the MAT business model is being encouraged. If funding is tight, I question why CET took on responsibility for another school, especially one over 30 miles away. As a parent at Chesterton, how can I be confident that the educational standards that have been achieved at Chesterton, won’t be diluted over time by staffing and resources being spent on trying to get other schools in the portfolio up to the same level or amalgamating new schools to the trust. I think both CCC and IVC require more time to demonstrate they have been able to add significant improvements to their individually sponsored schools before any further enlargement is permitted.

    Rather than enlarging, I believe there is more value to be gained by individual academies and schools across the City working alongside a range of other schools in the area, rather than merging with selected ones. If the trusts have been working together informally for some time, why not just continue with the same set up? As separate trusts you would continue bringing your own thoughts and ideas to the table. Once aligned, doesn’t that reduce the range of independent professional input that can be gained from collaboration?

    On the curriculum front, it would be useful to know what subjects are specifically at risk of loss that CCC and IVC currently provide already? What additional subjects could be bought into play to broaden the current curriculum? There would be certainly be some geographical benefits for students from CCC and IVC with access to shared facilities and resources, but how will other schools in the portfolio share in those benefits? It seems a possibility that over time, one of CCC or IVC could strengthen to become the dominate school in the trust. How will the balance be maintained between the two main schools in the partnership?

    I’m not convinced that the presence of a combined trust and therefore enhanced profile would have any great impact in attracting and retaining further quality teaching staff. As well performing schools, both CCC and IVC have an inherent advantage over others in recruiting good quality teaching staff. Rather issues such as cost of living are more likely the barriers to teachers moving to or staying in Cambridge. What many trusts have not really managed to address is the shortage of teaching staff in outlying schools with supposed lower performance. DMA, in common with many schools, has continued difficulties attracting teaching staff, which do not appear to have been resolved since the CET took over their sponsorship. How will a new trust look to solve this ongoing issue?

    You mention enhanced capacity, but no reference is made of the expected student intakes as a result of the merger. Would a combined trust be looking to increase student numbers? Would it create any expectations from the local authority that an increased intake at start of KS3 would be required across CCC and IVC? How would such an increase be catered for, without affecting the educational benefits to current students?

    I believe many MATS have moved towards disbanding local Governing Bodies, in favour of a single Governing board that oversees all schools. Can the trusts make assurances that each school’s individual Governing body will remain in place permanently, so that decision making and accountability to parents remains within the heart of each school?

    Local authority provision of educational services is diminishing because of the decisions of schools (forced in some cases) to become independent academies. There is some sense in combining services to reduce costs by economies of scale, which perhaps begs the question of why schools opted out of local authority provision where those economies of scale already existed. I can see the argument that a merger would allow streamlining of many of the support services provided. However, you’ve indicated there will be no job losses, which from a business point of view appears slightly contradictory. If you can do the same job once instead of twice, surely those efficiencies would inevitably lead to staff cuts? Keeping the same numbers of staff across the portfolio would likely point to a top-heavy management structure, as is commonly found in many MAT schools. How will savings be made to be passed onto front line teaching?

    Many MATS face criticism for the excessive salaries now afforded for CEOs of trusts. Will the CEO and Deputy CEO of the new trust be receiving enhanced remuneration, as a result of the merger? If so, what targets are being set for the new trust to achieve in the first few years? How and when will we know if the merger has been a success?

    I understand that once a merger was completed, there would be no going back. Is it correct that the two trusts and all schools, budgets, land and buildings become one entity? From a risk perspective, would it not be preferable to limit the liabilities across two trusts, given both are currently academically successful and financially sound in their own rights?

    Whilst this merger might provide some short-term educational benefits for students, I think those would be minimal. The merger decision appears to be primarily business driven to make the most of limited funding. I think we would all agree that educational funding from Central Government, particularly for Cambridgeshire is far lower than it should be and it makes sense that a merger would address many budget issues, but does not address the continued lack of proper funding in Education and hence I don’t see this as a long term solution. There is no reason to suggest that 5 years down the line, the new trust won’t find itself in the same boat and looking to merge again to keep up with the economies of scale, as has been seen in other MATS in Cambridge.

    I feel that having a ‘super’ trust in the north of the city with the two best performing schools would be largely detrimental to surrounding schools and the overall educational provision within Cambridge, potentially creating a two-tier system in the north of the city. As a parent the choice of schools becomes further restricted by the growth of MATS within Cambridge. I don’t buy into the concept that the schools themselves remain independent. I believe combining trusts ultimately creates identikit schools in the long term, with a one size fits all model which leads to loss of identity. The choice of Chesterton for my child was based on the school being unique and not being part of a large conglomerate. I personally think that the National policy of continue MAT enlargement will eventually lead to a highly disjointed education service, reduced accountability and widely differing educational outcomes.

    I understand there is no legal requirement for consulting on mergers, so the website consultation is appreciated, but it’s not possible for parents to effectively share and discuss their views in the current lock down situation? What would be the specific opportunities gained from proceeding this year, rather than having a full and proper face to face consultation with parents and other stakeholders once unfolding events finally allow this to happen. What would be the disadvantages of holding back for a year? As previously mentioned, the merger appears to be being rushed through which gives me concerns about overall long-term strategic planning and I find the proposal is too generalised to make an effective judgement on specific advantages. For those reasons, I don’t personally support this merger at the current time.

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    1. Response from Lucy Scott: ‘Thank you for your additional comments. We very much appreciate the care and thought you are devoting to understanding and exploring the proposed merger. I, or one of the other CET trustees, would be very happy to have a conversation with you about the merger. If you would like to do this please do let us know and we will arrange for this to happen.’

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    2. It would be helpful if a detailed response to the points raised in this lengthy email could be shared on this feedback forum

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      1. Thank you for your question relating to Martin Bray’s post.

        The issues asked by Mr Bray are too detailed and too specific to Chesterton Community College for an informative public response, but I know that Lucy Scott, CEO of CET and Executive Principal of CCC would be delighted to discuss any of these issues if you wanted to arrange a meeting or call.

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  18. I am a parent of a child at DMA therefore, this would be a second merge within her Secondary Education. I echo concerns others have made with regards to the timing of the merge. I appreciate my daughter’s teachers have been continually setting work during this difficult time, and offering as much help as required through e-communications. However, surely the concentration of both Trusts should be towards the provision of education through this continued time of ambiguity, and not the proposed merger. Granted some capacity has opened up with pupil attendance being significantly reduced, but one can only assume that were a public consultation available, more information would have been provided, with further explanations, during Townhall meetings, ontop of what has already been published. Therefore, stakeholders have a much reduced understanding, were we not experiencing the current exceptional circumstances.

    On top of this, another echo is the concerning size of the Trust when the merge is finished. Having discussed this matter with my daughter, there is already a feeling felt by the DMA pupils that Chesterton is the favoured school within the CET partnership, with DMA the school that nobody wants to talk about, or compares to in a positive manner. Considering the inclusion of two further schools, and the aspiration for the specialist Maths Sixth Form in Cambridge, how will the Trust endeavour to improve this atmosphere and further include those which possibly see themselves as ‘bringing less to the party’?

    The information provided has alluded to the protection of the broad and balanced curriculum on offer, and enhancement due to the larger pool of specialist staff and access to resources a merge will bring. Can you please expand the short term plan (3-5 yrs) for possible additions to the DMA curriculum, as the protection assured means nothing will be removed, considering the significant reduction of music after DMA’s first merge, as the feeling portrayed is one to promote opportunities that the merge will afford.

    Finally, and more simply, a further change to uniform at DMA would not be welcomed.

    Thank you for the time with these queries and look forward to the forthcoming responses.

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    1. Response by Lucy Scott:

      ‘Many thanks for your comment. We do recognise that the timing of any development currently is difficult, however, we genuinely believe that the merger will be helpful and having it start at the beginning of an academic year will also be beneficial. Therefore we have continued with the process.

      ‘As you recognise, teachers are working very hard at this time and this is being done in consultation with colleagues at Chesterton. Working together as two schools has been incredibly helpful at this time. This work has built on what we already do: our curriculum is shared across the two schools – we use the same resources for example – and it has enabled us to offer additional subjects such as Latin across both schools.

      ‘Without the merger we would still be a very small trust. However, with two more secondary schools the opportunity to further develop the curriculum will be enhanced. Each school in the merged trust will maintain its unique identity; this will mean that, for example, DMA’s uniform will not change.’

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  19. Would it be worth adding details of this merger onto both the CCC and CET websites as there is no mention of it that I can see on these sites? The same for DMA and WVC. I note it does get a mention on the IVC and MET news web pages. It would seem an important enough subject to have the same transparency devoted to it across the whole portfolio of schools within both trusts.

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    1. Thank you for this helpful suggestion – we’ll add more prominent links to this website to the trust and school websites.

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  20. A full and detailed response has been sent to the CET/TMET Chairs by Long Road Sixth Form College. At present this College does not believe sufficient information has been provided to make a proper evaluation of the proposed merger, nor do we believe that there is sufficient time allowed for full consultation and any subsequent implementation. We do not understand the need to have the process completed before the new school / college year and therefore suggest that the proposal is put on hold until all stakeholders have emerged from the current, unprecedented circumstances, at which time the consultation/proposal can be given proper consideration.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and the letter sent to the trust chairs – we have replied to the letter separately. The trustees of CET and MET have set out a full rationale for the merger in both The Proposal and FAQ on this site.

      As we have written in our letter to the chair of Long Road Sixth Form College, neither CET nor MET have any new plans to change their 6th Form provision (comprising the current 6th Forms at IVC and DMA, the planned Cambridge Mathematical 6th Form and the Athena College project). We would, of course, consult fully with all stakeholders were we to do so in the future.

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  21. I completely agree with Jennifer’s comment. I consider this to be an important decision and personally I am very unhappy about the growth of these large academy chains. There is a real issue with accountability as these organisations grow and become immense bureaucracies with unelected individuals exercising immense power over the education of our children. Regardless of whether my views are shared, for the benefit of all concerned, I do not think this should be discussed at the present time; it is too important. I think it should all be put on hold for now.

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    1. Many thanks for your comments. Lifelong Learning (the provisional name of the proposed merged trust) will be a local trust serving geographically adjacent communities in north Cambridge, the Isle of Ely and west Norfolk. By combining we will ensure that we have a vibrant, successful local trust that is under no pressure to join a large academy chain.

      As indicated in previous responses, we grappled with the issue of timing, but came to the conclusion that it was the right time to join together to provide a better education for our students notwithstanding the challenge of engaging with our key stakeholders in this difficult period.

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  22. I would strongly echo all the comments made by Jennifer. This hardly feels like an appropriate time to be consulting on this or devoting resources to it. It creates the perception that you are using the current crisis as an excuse to quietly push the merger through, with minimal discussion or scrutiny from stakeholders. The late notice and timeline involved would point to a rushed process, which does not inspire confidence that due consideration will have been given to all aspects of a merger.
    With the likelihood of continued disruption to my child’s education for the foreseeable future, I don’t believe this is the right focus for management to be considering at the moment. I’d like to see much greater emphasis being made on supporting all Chesterton teachers and students with the remote teaching and learning arrangements they will need to adjust to over the coming months.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. As we said in our response to Jennifer Kavanagh, timing of the announcement was something trustees grappled with and we came to the conclusion that the advantages of proceeding outweighed the disadvantages.

      This is a difficult time, but all four secondary schools in CET and MET have already started to share capacity and are supporting each other with online provision and teacher resources. For example, on Friday all Heads of the secondary schools are meeting virtually to explore how we can build on individual institutional strengths and enhances resources for students.

      While the merger was not driven by the current situation, it is already giving us greater capacity to cope in these challenging times.

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      1. I would comment that when the proposed sixth form at Chesterton was being discussed earlier this academic year, we were reassured that Chesterton easily had the teaching and resource capacity to extend its provision into sixth form and able to compete with Hills Road and the like and would be the key sixth form player in the north of the city. The drive to merge indicates that this may not have been the case. Are the old sixth form plans redundant now and will the link with Impington mean that their sixth form forms the backbone of a new sixth form plan for Chesterton?

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      2. Thank you for your comment and question regarding Athena College.

        Athena College is the sixth-form based at Downham Market Academy. As you reference, CET were very keen to expand this provision so that it could be accessed by Chesterton students, because there is capacity and enthusiasm within the existing trust to do this. However, local sixth-form college providers have challenged whether this should be allowed to happen and so we are currently in discussion with the Regional School Commissioner about this. It is completely unrelated to the merger.

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  23. I am a parent of two Chesterton students. I am amazed that this merger is going ahead right now, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, when very few parents or members of the community will be in a position to respond. For those of us who are well enough or have the headspace to respond, electronic feedback is far less satisfactory than face to face communication and is another strong reason to delay.
    This merger comes as a huge surprise to me as a parent. There has been no mention of it as an idea up until now, when you present it basically as a fait accompli. Until now, the only communication was about Athena college, which we have had no communication about since the period of consultation about that ended. Instead, it’s suddenly a merger and no mention of Athena. I find the sudden changes of direction, together with the lack of communication, very concerning. All this does not inspire confidence. Furthermore, there is a total lack of detail in the communication that we have received.

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    1. Thank you for your comments. As trustees we struggled regarding the timing of this announcement given the current Covid-19 crisis. However, we have been driven by the wish to function as normally as we can and to ensure that our school communities can continue to thrive.

      We genuinely feel that the merger is hugely positive for students – as outlined both in The Proposal and the FAQ pages on this website – so we felt we had to move forward to ensure that this process could be managed and take effect from the start of the next academic year.

      It had been our intention to hold face to face drop in meetings. With this no longer being possible, we are using this website as a forum for discussion.

      Like

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