The CEO of a local educational trust has said plans for a proposed merger with another trust –covering the wider Wantage and Grove area – would “make absolute sense” in every respect.

The Vale Academy and Faringdon Learning Trusts have been outlined to come together and form a new, larger trust, with a public consultation on the matter closing today (Wednesday, March 6).

According to CEO of the Vale Academy Trust, Richard Evans, under the current merger plan there would be "no radical changes". 

The plans say school sites and buildings would be retained, staff members would not face redundancy, staff and pupils would not be moved and schools would not change their ethos.

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Mr Evans said: “The two trusts have been working together mutually for 10 years, with both having existed for this time.

“The idea of naturally coming together has been in discussion for at least six years. We’ve been asking stakeholders, staff and parents how they feel about a possible merger, gathering views and opinions.

“If people feel it’s good and both trusts are agreeable, we would proceed to merge over the next six months. It’s a slow process but makes absolute sense as both trusts are so close to one another – in our work and geographically.”

In addition to staff, parents and stakeholders, the public consultation has involved letters and documents outlining how the merger would be implemented, and shared with over 5000 people including outside schools, all levels of local government and the wider community.

Eight meetings have been held in the last two weeks in locations such as Wantage, Faringdon and Abingdon, offering parents the opportunity to pose questions to leaders in person.

Expanding on the consultation process, Mr Evans described support so far as “unanimously brilliant” and revealed: “Whilst it’s been supported, we’ve also had a very small number with reservations, just around the unknown.”

Both the Vale Academy and Faringdon Learning Trusts incorporate nine schools, each within an eight mile radius of one another, these being a mix of primary, secondary and Church of England schools. Every school has an Ofsted rating of at least “good”.

Mr Evans insisted the proposed merger would be one “of equals”, with both bodies coming together on an equal basis, and that one would not be taking over the other, instead “continuing to improve and help schools and improve education within them” as a single, larger trust with a new name, yet to be decided.

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He said: “We won’t be taking money out of schools where we may make savings, instead we’ll have better buy in power and scales of economy. Extra savings will be put back into schools.

“We may potentially incorporate more schools in the future, but the focus for now is making a merger successful.”

Mr Evans confirmed that once all responses had been collated, a final summary from the boards of both trusts would be published, explaining an intention to go ahead with merger or not.