Academy trusts are one step closer to having a new membership organisation after proposals for a “Confederation of School Trusts” were overwhelmingly backed in a consultation, Schools Week can exclusively reveal.
Members of pro-autonomy group FASNA will now officially vote on plans to rebrand the organisation after 96 per cent of respondents to a consultation on the plans expressed their support. More than 100 people responded.
FASNA, which stands for Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association, currently aims to “promote and secure autonomy for schools and evidence its success”, and supports all multi-academy trusts, single-academy trusts and school leaders.
At the moment trusts are dispersed with no way of making or influencing policy and without the capacity to advocate for our education system when it comes under attack
In July, leaders asked members if they wanted to “reshape, rebrand and rename” the organisation as the “sector body for the emerging landscape of legally independent school trusts”.
Leora Cruddas, the chief executive of FASNA, told Schools Week that most respondents supported the direction of travel and agreed “that the emerging landscape of legally autonomous schools and trusts needs a sector body”.
“At the moment trusts are dispersed with no way of making or influencing policy and without the capacity to advocate for our education system when it comes under attack. We believe that a sector body is essential if we are to speak authoritatively to government and help to build an excellent education system in England.”
She drew parallels with other sector bodies, such as the Association of Colleges, NHS Federation and Confederation of British Industry.
“We aim to be a membership organisation of organisations. This means that the organisation – the trust – is the member. When a Trust joins the CST, we will support the executive team, the trustees and the trust board as a corporate entity.”
Documents lodged at Companies House also confirm that the Confederation of School Trusts Limited was incorporated as a private company limited by guarantee on August 13, but Cruddas said this was only a “precautionary action”.
“This is to prevent the name being registered by any other organisation,” she said.
Schools Week also understands that some of the larger academy trusts would be willing to back the new body.
FASNA members will be given the chance to vote at a general meeting on September 21. Those who cannot attend will be able to send a proxy notice.
If the change is approved, the new organisation will launch at the group’s annual conference on October 11.