Trust to take over Steiner Academy Bristol

June 07 2019
Trust to take over Steiner Academy Bristol

THE Steiner Academy Bristol in Fishponds is to be transferred to a new academy trust, months after an Ofsted inspection report said it was inadequate.

The school in College Road – and two other Steiner academies in Frome and Exeter – will be transferred together to the Avanti Schools Trust, a London-based charitable company which runs seven Hindu faith schools across England.

Steiner Academy Bristol principal Joss Hayes announced the transfer today in a joint statement with the acting heads of the other two schools.

They said: “We are delighted that there is now a clear direction for the future of the schools, building on Avanti’s successful approach to school improvement, whilst working to combine the Steiner-Waldorf principles.

The next phase will include an active consultation period with parents and staff, led by the Avanti team. We are sure that there are many questions, but hope that this decision allows us to begin the next phase, moving forward as a group of schools, together.

It is important to note that the School Improvement Plans each academy have been working towards, to respond to the Ofsted findings, remain in place, and will continue to be the focus for staff and teachers at all of the academies.”

The school’s governing body was given a termination notice in January by the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West, Lisa Mannall, who said she was “minded to terminate the funding agreement of the academy and transfer the school to a strong multi-academy trust” following the report.

Confirming the Department for Education’s approval of the Avanti Schools Trust as the sponsor in principle for the schools today, Ms Mannall said: “I hope that this will provide certainty to pupils, parents, and staff about the future of the school, as well as reassurance that the department recognises the urgent need for improved educational standards and continued leadership support. I expect the trust to complete its due diligence with a view to the schools formally transferring in the autumn.”

She said the DfE had considered all options, including closing the Fishponds school, which has 377 pupils aged from 4 to 16.

Ms Mannall said she had asked Avanti to consider whether operating as an all-through primary and secondary school was “educationally and financially sustainable in the longer term”.

She said: “I remain concerned about the standard of education at the school, and the Regional Schools Commissioner’s office will be closely monitoring progress after the school transfers.”

All of the Avanti trust’s schools are also open to non-Hindus: two are in Leicester and the others are in and around London.

Avanti describes its ethos as the Avanti Way, and says it “exists to help each person become a well-rounded human being through intellectual, personal and spiritual growth, and so make the world a better place”.

The trust says it follows what it calls its “Triple Pathway”, supporting people along three “parallel paths” of educational excellence, character formation and spiritual insight.

The trust says all of its schools are rated at least good with excellent features by Ofsted.

Writing on its website, chief executive Nitesh Gor said: “Ever since Avanti was conceived, our aspiration has been to develop both faith and non-denominational schools. Our current schools all have Hindu faith-designations and the next exciting phase for Avanti is to develop our group of non-denominational schools, underpinned by Avanti’s purpose to contribute to society through the systematic pursuit of human values and spiritual development.

We also now look forward to working with other schools who are looking to join a thriving multi-academy trust and may wish to join the Avanti family of schools.”