Frank Field Education Trust to sponsor first school

An academy trust set up by veteran Labour politician Frank Field and Tory donor David Ross has announced it is taking on its first school.

The Frank Field Education Trust (FFET) is the brainchild of Field, the MP for Birkenhead, and Ross, the millionaire founder of Carphone Warehouse, who chairs the New Schools Network.

The chain announced today that Wilmslow Grange Community Primary School in Handforth, Cheshire, will soon become its lead school, after the move was approved by the governmment.

Schools Week revealed earlier this month that the trust had been granted permission to open a free school in Liverpool, and was hoping to take on a number of existing ‘outstanding’ schools later this year.

Wilmslow Grange is rated ‘outstanding’ across the board with around 320 pupils, 8.1 per cent of whom are eligible for free school meals. The school specialises in helping pupils with autistic spectrum disorder and other special educational needs. It also has a nursery.

The trust said it expects to announce the conversion of subsequent Ofsted ‘outstanding’ schools “imminently”.

Tom Quinn, chief executive of the trust, said it was “honoured” to welcome Wilmslow Grange.

“We look forward to them supporting subsequent schools to offer exciting, high-achieving curricula whilst retaining an inclusive ethos.”

Mark Unwin, Wilmslow Grange’s headteacher, said the trust’s “high-expectations and desire for a rich, exciting educational experience for all children accords very closely with our own”.

“We believe that our expertise can assist schools within the trust and promote social justice for the most disadvantaged schools and families in the north west in line with FFET’s vision and we look forward to an exciting next stage of development for Wilmslow Grange.”

Initially called The Cathedral Academies Trust, Field’s chain was approved as an academy sponsor in 2016, but changed its name in April to acknowledge that “most people referred to it as Frank Field’s Trust”.

Field resigned the Labour whip on August 30 to sit as an independent Labour MP, meaning he is no longer required to vote with the party in Parliament. He quit in protest over Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of Labour’s ongoing antisemitism crisis.