We live in a nation that is struggling to make sense of how to leave the EU in a manner that is not destructive for either the UK or indeed the EU itself, which will remain our closest and largest trading partner for many years to come, irrespective of how well Liam Fox and his team do in forming new trading agreements. It is abundantly clear that the arrangements for leaving whilst in existence had not been fully thought through either by the people who created the EU (the UK was one of the primary designers) or by our Government in the period after David Cameron first proposed a referendum (23rd January 2013). However this set of challenges are not unique here in the UK. An online newsletter called ED Week has just published an account of the turmoil being experienced by the Governors, parents and staff at a Primary School in Congleton. The School is called Black Firs Primary and they are currently part of an Academy Trust called Congleton Multi-Academy Trust. The news report implies that trust has broken down between Black Firs which is rated a ‘good’ by OFSTED and Cmat. The challenge is that whilst there are agreed procedures to allow Schools to transfer from one trust to another when the school is judged to be under-performing, there is no precedent for this to happen when the school is working well. The break down between the school and the Trust is partly based on a concern about funding and also because some of the Governors of Black Firs criticised Cmat and were then sacked by the Trustees of Cmat.
I have been a Trustee of numerous Charities over many years and the tedious nature of agreeing constitutions is something I can vividly remember. The truth is that a good constitution will have rules and processes for every eventuality and so will largely be a redundant document as few of the eventualities will ever be played out. The alternative approach is to go for a lean constitution which cuts corners with certain scenarios as the view is that the Trustees will be able to resolve matters for themselves. It appears that the arrangements for all Academy Trusts needs to be reviewed in the light of this issue, bearing in mind that they all lack a basis for a well performing School to leave a Trust should it wish to do so! We all join organisations and partnerships with good intentions, and many will end well, however presuming that things will follow a limited range of options is naive at best and in this case may well lead to a loss of confidence in the whole system. Every MAT and School in the country will become aware of this case in due course!
Bearing in mind that the Government which failed to plan for Brexit is the same Government which has overseen the failure for a way out between Black Firs and Cmat, it would seem there is a deep flaw in their thinking. How many other issues will emerge in the future?