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Troubled academy trust partners with larger organisation amid 'extremely difficult financial climate'

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:54 18 May 2019

Angel Road Junior School in Norwich, part of the Diversa Multi Academy Trust, which has announced a partnership with the larger Evolution Academy Trust. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Angel Road Junior School in Norwich, part of the Diversa Multi Academy Trust, which has announced a partnership with the larger Evolution Academy Trust. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A small academy trust which has announced redundancies at all of its schools in the past month is going into partnership with a larger trust to secure its future.

Lynsey Holzer, chief executive of Evolution Academy Trust and interim chief executive of Diversa Multi Academy Trust. Picture: Lynsey HolzerLynsey Holzer, chief executive of Evolution Academy Trust and interim chief executive of Diversa Multi Academy Trust. Picture: Lynsey Holzer

Norwich-based Diversa Multi Academy Trust (MAT) said on Friday that it was starting a new partnership with Evolution Academy Trust, also based in the city.

The official partnership will begin immediately - but the eventual goal for both trusts is a merger, which could happen during the next academic year pending consultation with the Department for Education, the regional schools commissioner and the public.

It comes amid a turbulent time for Diversa, which has since Easter announced redundancies among the teaching assistants at Angel Road Infant and Junior Schools and Bignold Primary School as it struggles to shore up its finances.

The Evolution Academy Trust runs five schools in Norwich including Wensum Junior School and Costessey Infant and Junior Schools, four primaries in the Lowestoft area and one near Great Yarmouth.

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The trusts say the partnership will help them weather the "extremely difficult financial climate" in education by giving them increased buying and negotiating power for non-staff costs and the chance to reduce duplication across the organisations.

As part of the partnership, Evolution chief executive Lynsey Holzer will become the interim chief executive of Diversa as of September 1, 2019, when current chief executive Clare Jones leaves to take up a new post at the Norwich-based Right for Success Trust.

A recruitment process will also be started to replace Chris Read, the departing headteacher at Angel Road Infant and Junior Schools.

All the schools will be overseen by a partnership board, comprising trustees from both Diversa and Evolution.

Ms Holzer said: "We were delighted to be chosen. It seems like a really good match, both in terms of our moral imperatives and outlook, and the reasons we both initially set up as a trust.

"We are talking about this as a partnership, we hope it will go on to become a merger.

"The economics of scale we can achieve across the schools will make a big difference, in the business side and in terms of shared support and resources - it makes it more economically viable."

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