Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) and Brook Learning Trust (BLT) are in discussions about a possible partnership to benefit pupils and families across Kent which would result in BLT’s three academies joining LAT from 1st September 2021. The two trusts are working together, and with the Department for Education (DfE) and Kent County Council (KCC), to discuss the merger.
LAT was one of England’s first multi-academy trusts and is responsible for 29 academies across Kent, Medway, Bexley and Greenwich. Serving 18,000 pupils and their families, it has an annual budget of £120m and employs around 2,500 highly talented staff.
BLT also enjoys a proud history and currently operates three secondary academies in areas already very familiar to LAT – The Ebbsfleet Academy in North West Kent, The Hayesbrook School in Tonbridge and High Weald Academy in Cranbrook – which would join LAT under the proposal.
Should agreement be reached, this merger will create an even stronger group of 32 LAT academies serving communities in the South-East and helping to shape children’s futures for the better. The pandemic has demonstrated the benefits of partnership and teamwork more profoundly than ever. Through collaboration, both trusts are determined to consider all possibilities in finding the best possible future for staff and pupils at Ebbsfleet, Hayesbrook and High Weald.
While no final decision has been made, due diligence has already begun and a series of Covid-secure site visits are planned. Should progress continue to be positive, there will be further consultations on proposals taking place with staff, parents and the wider community in the Summer Term. The Headteacher Board of the Regional Schools’ Commissioner’s Office for the South East and South London is due to decide whether to permit the merger discussions to continue when it meets later in March.
Commenting on the proposals, Simon Beamish, Chief Executive of LAT, said:
“LAT has deep roots in Kent and is committed to working with other schools in the County to provide the best possible future for pupils. As the region’s largest and best-established multi-academy trust, it is able to bring considerable levels of resources to bear that any much smaller group of schools standing alone cannot enjoy. We are delighted to engage with BLT trustees about a merger and have been very encouraged by the positive discussions which have taken place so far with like-minded colleagues”.
Jeanette Batten, Chair of BLT, said:
“BLT has a strong ethos – we strive to provide the best possible opportunities for all students at the academies within our Trust and that is the overriding objective we are seeking from any partnership with LAT. LAT has a similar outlook that has helped it to develop into a strong Trust, respected at county and national level for the opportunities it creates for the students within its care, as well as for its staff. We look forward to continuing to work with LAT, the DfE and KCC, to examine how increased size and scale, and the sharing of expertise and opportunities, will benefit our students and staff”.
Simon Beamish | Chief Executive
Leigh Academies Trust
Jeanette Batten | Chair
Brook Learning Trust