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Education group seeking merger with bigger trust to secure academies' futures

Norfolk Academies, which runs Wayland Academy, Fakenham Academy and Attleborough Academy, is seeking a merger with a larger academy trust. Also pictured is UTC Norfolk, part of the TEN Group, which oversees Norfolk Academies. Picture: TEN Group, Ian Burt, Bill Smith and Denise Bradley.

Norfolk Academies, which runs Wayland Academy, Fakenham Academy and Attleborough Academy, is seeking a merger with a larger academy trust. Also pictured is UTC Norfolk, part of the TEN Group, which oversees Norfolk Academies. Picture: TEN Group, Ian Burt, Bill Smith and Denise Bradley.

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"Key changes" in education policy are behind an academy trust's decision to pursue a merger with a larger organisation.

Jim McAtear, chairman of Norfolk Academies. Picture: SubmittedJim McAtear, chairman of Norfolk Academies. Picture: Submitted

Norfolk Academies, which runs Attleborough Academy, Fakenham Academy, Wayland Academy and Wayland Junior Academy, is seeking to merge with a bigger trust to alleviate financial pressures which are more acute in smaller organisations.

The trust – part of the TEN (Transforming Education in Norfolk) Group, which also runs City College Norwich and University Technical College Norwich – also said that a move away from vocational learning since the group formed in 2012 had made its model of bringing schools into federation with colleges less viable.

It is in discussions with a number of multi-academy trusts about a possible merger and governors, staff and parents at its schools have been informed of the situation.

Norfolk Academies chairman Jim McAtear said the trust would only move ahead with a merger “if there is a good fit with another trust”, geographically and culturally, and if it would deliver the “economies of scale” benefits at the heart of the merger proposal.

He said: “The board of Norfolk Academies are clear that a merger is in the best long-term interests of our pupils, teachers and the communities served by our schools.

“This course of action offers important new possibilities in terms of school improvement, curriculum development, making limited resources go further, extra-curricular activities, staff development, and more.”

Sue Guest, TEN Group chairman, said the education landscape had changed considerably.

“There is now a compelling case for schools to be partnered with other schools in larger groupings, which we have seen in the general move away from small and single academy trusts,” she said.

In a statement, Norfolk Academies said that merging would bring benefits including improved career development opportunities for staff and cost savings on equipment and services.

It will also be easier for its schools to secure grant funding for building projects, as academy trusts with more than 3,000 pupils receive an annual allowance from the government for capital projects.

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