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Trust Merger Information

The Shared Learning Trust and Advantage Schools

We are pleased to announce that the DfE has officially approved the merger of The Shared Learning Trust with Advantage Schools. This merger will create a new 10-school multi-academy trust (MAT) across Bedfordshire, which will have over 6,500 pupils aged 2-18 and approximately 900 staff. The trusts have come together in this way through an aligned vision and common values. Both champion exceptional pupil behaviour and outstanding professional learning. The MATs have a firm commitment to acting in the best interests of pupils and their families and look forward to continuing with the vision to provide all children with the highest quality education, enabling every student to achieve their potential through a comprehensive and enriching educational experience.

Who are Advantage Schools?

Advantage Schools (AS) is a trust comprising 2 secondary schools and 3 primary schools located in Bedford and Central Bedfordshire. With their ethos of ‘Aspiration, Respect, Honesty’ driving their vision, AS specialises in an academic curriculum that leads to excellent outcomes, alongside a great learning environment and fantastic extra-curricular opportunities. AS is proud to run one of the highest-performing schools in the country in the centre of Bedford and has extensive experience in improving educational excellence in schools. Both trusts believe that schools should be at the heart of their communities.


Why is The Shared Learning Trust merging with Advantage Schools?

The rationale is as follows:

Educational Excellence: Advantage Schools’ proven educational model, renowned for transforming schools and delivering outstanding outcomes, will merge with The Shared Learning Trust’s operational strengths, setting a new standard for academic and operational excellence.

Financial Stability: Both trusts bring robust financial health to the merger, ensuring a sustainable future with enhanced educational offerings and operational efficiencies.

Community Impact: United by a shared vision, the merged entity will use combined strengths to deliver high-quality inclusive education, making significant contributions to local communities and the broader educational sector.

The joint vision goes beyond academic success; we are dedicated to nurturing well-rounded individuals who are equipped to thrive and contribute meaningfully to society, embodying our unwavering belief in the power of education.

The vision of the merged trust is to provide all children with the highest quality of teaching of an excellent academic curriculum, which enables them to become highly educated and to be full and active participants of society. We will not make exceptions in our high aspirations.

How will my child benefit from the merger?

As outlined in the response to question 1, your child will benefit in several key ways. In addition, there will be greater capacity for school improvement and the introduction of combined innovative ideas. Our overarching goal is to ensure that every pupil within the MAT receives a high-quality educational experience. Through merging best practice, we will ensure our pupils receive the very best lessons, equipping them with the knowledge and skills required to be successful in later life.

Will the trust’s schools’ names?

No, there are no plans to change the names of the schools within the trust. Each school will retain its current name.

Will this transition disrupt my child’s education?

Our Board of Trustees has made it clear that there must be no detrimental impact on the schools. The transition process will be overseen by the dedicated business team, ensuring no disruption to your child's education.

Are the values of the two trusts aligned?

Yes, both trusts are interested in and committed to working closely with local families and stakeholders.  The new trust will continue to value and celebrate the inclusivity and diversity of these communities through a rich and ambitious curriculum, giving pupils the skills required for the best jobs in the area.  All schools in the merged trust will build on the Race and Conscious Equality (RACE) work already undergone at TSLT where a Charter Mark recognising the work to establish equity and equality of opportunity within the organisation has been achieved.

Will there be curriculum changes?

There are no immediate plans to change the curriculum in any school.  As you would expect, however, the headteachers across the ten schools will meet to review their curriculums and changes for the better may be made in some areas.

The two trusts do agree that:

  • Every child must benefit from a broad, ambitious, knowledge-rich curriculum, taught by highly skilled teachers.
  • Every school will have a well-designed and well-sequenced curriculum, which ensures children build knowledge in a broad range of subjects before going on to specialise after the age of 16.
  • Every child must be taught this broad and ambitious curriculum in a school with high expectations and strong standards of behaviour.
  • All children can and will benefit disproportionately from being taught in the newly-merged multi-academy trust (MAT)
Will any of the teaching or support staff change?

No there will be no changes to the teaching or support colleagues due to the merger process.

What due diligence has been conducted?

Substantial due diligence has been carried out prior to the merger proposal. Comprehensive outcomes have been diligently reported to the Board of Trustees. Furthermore, a robust business case has been prepared and submitted to the Department for Education (DfE), resulting in its approval. Both trusts have also engaged with solicitors to ensure a robust process.

Will this merger change any governance structures?

As per the current governance arrangements, there will be one board of Trustees, which is the legal entity for the merged trust. The new board will comprise trustees from both organisations.  Both trusts agree that schools will have some form of local governance, and as part of the merger, we will consider the best possible approach.

What will this merger mean in terms of changes to operations/facilities/class size etc.?

In terms of practicalities; the nameger, nor will the school uniform be altered.  Staff will remain in their respective schools unless they have expressed a desire to work across more than one academy.  The timings of the school day will also remain unchanged unless the individual headteachers deem this necessary; the operational impact on pupils and families will therefore be minimal.

Can you explain the educational benefits?

The Merger between the two organisations brings forth a wealth of educational benefits that will positively impact both students and staff. By pooling together the educational expertise of both entities, the newly formed trust will have increased capacity within its school improvement teams. This expanded capacity will empower the trust to pursue its overarching goal of providing transformational educational opportunities for all students.

By joining forces, the new trust will be well-positioned to offer an outstanding quality of education to its students, coupled with exceptional levels of personal care and support. This collective effort aims to make a tangible difference in the communities served by the trust, empowering students to reach their full potential and thrive academically, personally, and professionally.

What’s the completion date for the merger?

The completion date for the merger is set for 1 September 2024, at which point the newly merged trust is expected to become fully operational. This date marks the beginning of the unified entity, consolidating the schools under the new Advantage Schools structure.

Was the Board unanimous on proceeding with the merger?

Yes, all trustees were in complete agreement to proceed with the merger. The decision was unanimous, indicating strong support and consensus among the Board members regarding this strategic move.  The merger brings no personal financial benefits to any of the trustees, trust leaders or principals; all are agreed that the merger will create benefits of resource, expertise and capacity to the schools.