Dereham Neatherd High School

Dereham Neatherd High School

A Specialist Language College

MAT Consultation News

28th November 2016

Mid Norfolk Academy Trust

In January 2016, we announced our wish to become a lead school in a Multi Academy Trust (MAT).  The Governing Board of the Dereham Neatherd High School has now received the Academy Order from the Regional Schools’ Commissioner to move forward with our plans. Having held an informal consultation meeting in January 2016, the Governing Board is now continuing to consult on the school’s academy conversion and the formation of a MAT. Further information about what becoming a MAT means, and how to comment on the applications, is set out below.

Will Dereham Neatherd High School definitely become a MAT?

The school is not obligated to become a MAT until the contract between the MAT and the Department for Education is signed. 

The MAT will not sign the contract until all stakeholders[1] have been consulted. All stakeholders are invited to a meeting on Thursday 5th January 2017 at 6pm, to learn more about the MAT, or to comment on the application.

Any comments or representations made by all stakeholder groups which are made about the application will be considered by the Governing Board before a decision is taken to sign the contract.  Details of how to provide comments and representations are set out below. 

The consultation period will close on Wednesday 11th January 2017 (four school weeks from the date of this letter).

The Governing Board will not sign the contract unless they are content that conversion would be in the best interests of our students within the MAT.

What is a Multi Academy Trust?

A Multi Academy Trust is an independent group of schools which is funded by the state. It is independent of the local authority and receives its funding direct from central government.  Initially the MAT will only include Dereham Neatherd High School, but in due course other schools may ask or be invited to join the MAT.

Why not become a stand-alone Academy?

Under the Academies Act 2010, all schools are encouraged to become academies or join a MAT. Current Department for Education (DfE) policy is to encourage schools to form or join a MAT rather than to convert to a stand-alone Academy. 

What are the benefits of being in a MAT?

  • The school has greater autonomy to improve educational outcomes for students.
  • Schools in a MAT are independent of local authority control – this means that academies have more freedom about how they conduct themselves.
  • Schools in a MAT receive their funding direct from central government.
  • Schools in a MAT 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 students, should they wish to do so.
  • Schools in a MAT 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). Although the academy will have more freedom to amend those pay and conditions in the future, the Governing Board does not intend to take such a step in the foreseeable future and in any event, any change to pay and conditions would need to be consulted upon with staff representatives.
  • Schools in a MAT 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 setting up a MAT?

The MAT will be directly liable for matters such as insurance, employment liabilities, pensions, health and safety, and property maintenance. However, as mentioned above, the MAT will receive direct funding from central government to help meet these additional costs.

Will the admissions arrangements change?

As a community school, Dereham Neatherd High School’s admissions arrangements are set by the local authority, which also decides which students should be offered places at the school. As a school in a MAT, we will be in a position to put in place our own admission arrangements, and decide which students should be offered places in accordance with those arrangements. The school 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 MAT wanted to change admission arrangements further consultation would be required.

Will Dereham Neatherd High School change?

We want to continue to be a good school and to continue working towards becoming outstanding. We therefore do not intend to change 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 in their day to day school lives. Schools in a MAT do have the power to vary their curriculums and vary the length of the school day; however, we do not intend to take any such steps at this stage and would engage with parents and carers, staff and students if we did ever intend to make such changes in the future.

How can I find out more?

Please join us at the meeting on 5th January 2017 at 6pm and read the original letter from January 2016 (here).

There is also more information about multi academy trusts on the DfE website:

If you can’t find the answer to your question here, or on the DfE website, and cannot attend the meeting on 5th January, please email  

How can I make representations?

To respond to this consultation representations can be made in writing to:

Chair of the Governing Board
Dereham Neatherd High School
Norwich Road
NR20 3AX

Or by e-mail to: 

The closing date for representations to be made is Wednesday 11th January 2017.

Gill Spillman

Chair of the Governing Board, Dereham Neatherd High School



[1] Current students and parent/carers of DNHS
All staff and governors of DNHS
All unions representatives of DNHS
All cluster schools (headteachers/chair govs, requesting that message be forwarded to all parents)
Norfolk County Council
Breckland Council, and Dereham Neatherd councillors:
George Freeman MP, Member of Parliament for Mid Norfolk
Broadland District Council
Dereham Town Council