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35 Church Schools ‘cast’ off into a Multi Academy Trust
Tozers Solicitors LLP, with 3 offices in Devon, has today completed a remarkable project for Plymouth Diocese’s formation (education) department. It has created a charitable Multi Academy Trust (MAT) called Plymouth CAST (standing for ‘CAtholic – or Catholic Anglican – Schools Trust’). The name reflects both its Christian heritage and the maritime history of the south west. Unique in terms of its structure, CAST is designed to accommodate all 35 Catholic Schools in the counties of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset and also two joint church (Catholic and Anglican) secondary schools if they too decide to convert to academy status.
Plymouth CAST now takes over the role of the 7 local authorities that oversaw the work of those 35 schools, and it is the biggest MAT of its kind in the country. But the idea is not to create a huge education authority. The schools are grouped into 3 Academy Areas, each with its own adviser and Area Council, so that they benefit both from local geographical knowledge and involvement and the wider perspective and economies of scale of an educational charity serving 3 counties.
Richard King, head of the charities and school team and a partner at Tozers, comments: ” As well as setting up the complex Trust, we have been involved in negotiating and drafting all the agreements, leases and other documents with each Council and school, the Diocese and CAST, the unions and the Department for Education to govern this complex arrangement, all to a very tight timetable.”
Theodore Agnew, Chair of the government’s Academies Board, wrote of CAST, after final scrutiny of its detailed proposals, “I would like to repeat my congratulations…and to reiterate how extraordinary I think your achievements have been…It is very exciting to see Plymouth CAST at the point of creating the single biggest chain in the history of the academies’ programme.”
John Mannix, chief executive of Plymouth CAST, adds “There is nothing ‘standard’ about CAST’s creation and structure. From the outset, Tozers grasped what we were trying to achieve and worked hard to make it a reality. I am very grateful to the team for their dedication and their insight into such an extraordinary project.”