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Cranmer Education Trust

Cranmer Update

From the 1st April 2024 St. John's Thornham became part of The Cranmer Education Trust. The letter below from Mrs J Hollis, CEO of Cranmer Education Trust, officially welcomes our school community into their family of schools.



Intention of St. John’s CE, Thornham to join Cranmer Education Trust


Over the last 18 months St. John’s senior leaders alongside the governing board have worked very hard researching what it means to become an academy and have spent time looking, in depth, at three church of England MATs. The governing board looked at reasons for academisation/

joining a MAT, strengths in joining a MAT and risks if the school does not join a MAT.


The Christian Distinctiveness of our school is lived out every day in our actions, with our school motto and ethos at the heart of all decision making. The governing board were unanimous in their decision to proceed with an application to Manchester Diocese to become an academy. They were also unanimous in their decision that Cranmer Education Trust, through its values and ethos would enable our school to continue to thrive, further flourish and grow as a Church of England school within a Church of England family of schools led by a trust with a Christian Foundation. We believe that Cranmer Education Trust will enable us to do exactly what we encourage our staff and children to do each day face our fears and build hopes and dreams for our futures, ensuring that SJT continues to serve the community for many years ahead.


Cranmer Education Trust also-

  • Have a clear growth plan that would support a small school joining in the trust
  • Value our contribution towards the MAT
  • Have a strong reputation, with strong schools reflected by recent Ofsted and Siam’s Inspections
  • Recognise our strengths in leadership and good quality teaching and learning
  • See our potential grow and develop further and actively want to support our growth to one form entry
  • Have a Local Church of England secondary school in the trust which is making good progress where further links can be developed to ensure our children move on to a CofE School in their local catchment area
  • Have the current capacity for shared services to provide best value
  • Can provide strong opportunities to further staff development across schools and within the SCITT and leadership hub.
  • Cranmer’s values and ethos will ensure our school uniqueness is valued and cherished allowing us to continue to serve our community in our distinct way.


Cranmer’s Values and Ethos

  • We believe in the unique worth and value of every individual. As a Christian foundation we express this in our belief in every child as a child of God, equal, worthy of respect, entitled to nurture, opportunities and a future where they can and will do good as they go along.
  • We serve children and young people of all faiths and denominations and none. We will nurture Christian children in their faith support children of other faiths in theirs and seek to ensure that all children understand the significance of faith.
  • We are committed to the development of all staff throughout their careers: and to growing inspiring, committed, highly skilled and reflective teachers.
  • We work collaboratively, we commit, we share, we invest and we learn to build a system that enables all children and young people, and those who serve them, to thrive.
  • Our schools are communities that bring together young people from different social, cultural and faith backgrounds to build a cohesive, integrated, respectful community for all.

"The Cranmer Education Trust is delighted that the governing body of St John’s CE Primary, Thornham has resolved to join us. We look forward to welcoming the pupils, staff, governors, parents and wider community of this wonderful school to our trust family, and to working with them in our shared commitment to life in all its fullness and excellent education for all our young people."

FAQs – St John’s CE Primary School (SJT) joining the Cranmer Education Trust (CET)

1(a)   Why have the governors decided SJT should join the Cranmer Education Trust?

This is a decision that the governors have been weighing up for a year. The main reason is that we want the best for our children. With so many pressures now on schools and communities, it makes sense to work together. Small primaries can be particularly vulnerable to movements of staff or pressures on budgets.  We want to be part of a family that shares our vision, our values and our ethos, that invests in people and in schools and that shares expertise and experience.

We spent a lot of time researching the possibilities and spoke to a number of great trusts. We are grateful for the time they gave us. In the end we decided unanimously that CET, which runs St George’s East Crompton and Mayfield primaries, and St Anne’s, The Blue Coat School and the new Brian Clarke CE Academy secondaries, was the right one for SJT because:

  • Cranmer absolutely shares our distinctive Christian ethos. We want all our children and young people to understand and begin to experience what “Life in all its fullness” means, in mind, body and spirit. Their schools are all different, and they all serve different communities, but their commitment to the young people and the staff who serve them is rock-solid, and the CE distinctiveness of their CE schools is absolute
  • They are strong and know what they are doing. They have been going now for 6 years as a schools’ trust and have planned their growth strategically. They have both primary and secondary experience and expertise, plus teacher training and development arms. Their central capacity has ensured every school is supported and every school has improved/continues to improve. They are financially sound. Their accounts are exemplary. Their governance reviews have both been excellent. A recent staff survey showed high levels of awareness of and alignment with the trust, and recognition of the benefits for schools. We saw a real commitment to and indeed passion for the trust from the schools and the people who lead them.
  • Cranmer is very local with schools in Rochdale and Oldham. The trustees are all local people who are strongly invested in our area and our children.
  • We like the cross-phase character, and working with secondary colleagues. The benefits go both ways, we already have a lot of support from St Anne’s on transition, which our children really enjoy and benefit from. We look forward to bringing our strengths to the family, for example in the teaching of reading, and writing.
  • Cranmer’s culture is collaborative, i.e. do with, not do to, and it is based on growing the leadership in each school. There aren’t big central teams; it’s all very lean, but it is expert, and that is essential for school leaders as the demands and expectations continue to increase.
  • We are in a strong position; we have just had a really good inspection. We want our brilliant staff to have opportunities to develop others and keep on learning themselves. CET runs a teacher training arm, Manchester Nexus and the professional development hub. Our headteacher is now leading the National Professional Qualifications for Senior Leaders in this hub, which puts us in the centre and brings resource into our school.
  • As part of one trust, we will be a powerful and coherent voice for our schools, our children and our communities.

In March Manchester Diocese approved St John's joining The Cranmer Education Trust, in June 2023 St. John’s Thornham received confirmation from the DFE through an academy order to start the conversion process to join The Cranmer Education Trust.


1(b)   Does joining trust mean that the schools are no longer part of a Local Authority?

SJT will remain part of the network of primaries in Rochdale. The CET works in civic partnership with Local Authorities.


1(c)   What is the role of Manchester Diocese in SJT becoming an academy and joining CET?

The Diocese is neutral in that it does not direct governing bodies in decisions such as this. It makes information available for them, and will want to hear/has heard our rationale and check/ed that we have thought about this thoroughly and weighed up all the different options (which we have). Ultimately this is the decision of the governors who are the responsible body for the school


2.       What will it mean for the pupils of SJT?  Will we be able to keep own identity?

This was one of the aspects that drew us to CET. Our school has a very long and proud history of serving children and our community, and we wanted that distinctiveness to remain. The CET is very clear (and you can see this in their school members) that all the schools are unique and distinctive. They have shared values, principles, policies and a shared identity as one family, but within that the schools are different and distinctively themselves:


  • They have their own uniform.
  • They decide their own environment/colours.
  • They set their own term and holiday dates (within the LA pattern – nothing causes more problems for parents than having to work around different school holidays).
  • All policy is based on shared principles, which may look different in different schools.

How pupils will benefit – will be that their school is part of a bigger family which gives it security, the benefit of shared resource; a range of expertise to call down and therefore, high-quality in everything we do. Our pupils already benefit from transition work with St Anne’s; we will be linking with Blue Coat for the faith days, and with the whole trust for family celebrations


3.       How will staff be affected?  Will staff have to move between schools?

Currently, the employer is the Governing Body. All permanent staff will be transferred to the CET on their existing terms and conditions of employment. They are protected. The unions will all be involved. CET has a Joint Consultation and Negotiation Committee, with all unions representing education sector employees to consult on policy across the trust. Our HR provider (iTrent) will work with CET to make sure that all details are correct.


Once in CET, staff remain working in their school. The CET does offer secondments across schools for professional development – these are voluntary, and depend on the ability of the school to backfill. As part of the School Improvement Strategy, staff across the trust support, mentor and coach one another to develop new staff and people who are taking on a new role

Networks between support staff are particularly useful as these posts can be quite isolated in a single school.

TUPE consultation to transfer staff have been completed


4.       SJT is a Church of England school with a distinctively Christian ethos.  How will this be preserved?

We have chosen the CET because it is committed to a distinctive Christian ethos in its CE schools. St Anne’s, The Blue Coat, Brian Clarke CE Academy and St George’s all share the text for the year and the plan for worship across the year. All worship themes are based on the Bible. The trust’s chaplain, a teacher, leads worship in all schools every half term.


Worship follows the arc of the Christian year with a shared trust approach to advent and lent. All CE schools follow the Diocesan Scheme for RE.


The CET’s schools serve children of all faiths and none, and from all backgrounds and circumstances. The aim is to enable children to understand and be able to live “life in all its fullness”. The children have different needs, and church schools must respond to these, to support children, staff and communities.


5.       Will the Admissions Policy change?  Who decides?

No. In law, any change to admissions policies can only be made after consultation and all policies must comply with the Admissions Code (Sept 2021). If the code changes then schools have to adjust policy in line with this. It is the responsibility of the Trust Board to ensure that school policies comply with statutory requirements.


6.       How will parents and other members of the community be consulted?

We want everyone to be able to ask questions and share views. Over the last 8 months we have added to the FAQ on the website which we hoped will answered a lot of the initial questions.

We hope also to be able to answer a lot of other questions through our regular Governor on the gate sessions, so please look out for the dates of these on the weekly newsletter.


The Governing Body of St John’s Thornham formally invite you to share your views, comments and questions about the decision of the Governing Body to join The Cranmer Education Trust.


This consultation commences on Monday 22nd January 2024 at 9.00am and will conclude on Friday 1st March 2024 at 3.30pm. Representation can be shared by letter or email address to Mrs. Hunter the headteacher. The responses have been shared at the top of this website page.


7.       Who will own the land and buildings?

The land and buildings are owned by the Diocese of Manchester. They continue to own them, but the Diocese makes the trust a tenant for 125 years and the LA agrees a lease for 125 years. Sorting out the legal agreements for the land is one of the things that takes time. Also, the CET will want to be sure that our buildings are in good order and that the expansion to the full 1 form of entry is properly supported and fully achievable.


8(a)   Will academization cost the school money?

We will receive a grant of £25k from the Department for Education to pay the legal expenses.


The process will take time, which has a cost, but we will be working with the CET to manage it. It will take us to a position where the governors unanimously agree that the school will be even stronger.


8(b)   How long does the process take?

We are having regular meetings with the DFE around the conversion and following the completion of due diligence and the consultation with stakeholder we anticipate we will join The Cranmer Education Trust in April 2024 (there could be a slight delay due to the different elements of the process aligning)


9.       How will affect SJT’s expansion to take 30 pupils per year?

Rochdale LA is committed to supporting SJT to expand to 30 pupil places per year (1 form of entry). We are a good, popular and oversubscribed school and we have space to expand, and locally there is a shortage of Reception places. We would love more children to be able to benefit from our great school.

This is as important for SJT’s future as it is for the borough. Small schools have a higher level of risk, both financially and educationally. We need to grow to ensure SJT can thrive in the future the future.

We will soon be consulting about expanding to 1 form of entry. We believe we can manage this successfully with our current land, investment from Rochdale LA and our current access and enhanced travel plan.

The support of the CET will be very helpful. They are helping with the feasibility study. The trust has a lot of experience in capital projects.


10.     Is this connected with the Redrow scheme?

The Redrow Scheme, which is part of the Combined Authority’s “Places for Everyone” and Rochdale LA Local Plan, is a separate matter. We understand that, following the initial consultation, and meetings with stakeholders, a scheme will go to planning in the next few weeks. There could be further consultation about modifications. If the Planning Inspectors believe the plan is sound, they will recommend it to the Combined Authority, and the Council will decide whether it wishes to adopt the plan.


All of this process is completely separate from the school, whether we stay as we are, or whether we join the CET, or any trust. It will be decided politically, and it will take time. If houses are built, there will be more children who may need school places and at some point, SJT’s intake would be expanded

The CET will support us whether we are 1 form of entry or more.


11.     Who will run the school?

The same people who run it now – the headteacher and school leadership, working within the wider trust frameworks.


12(a) What happens to the current governors?

A school trust is set up legally as a company and has to file its accounts at Companies House, so it is very transparent. It is also an exempt charity (i.e. a charity that is not required to register with the Charity Commission).  Its top level of governance is the Board of Trustees who are responsible to the Secretary of State for education for:

  • The quality of education in all of their schools
  • The use of public money, propriety, regularity and value for money.
  • The staff.  The trustees are the single employer of all staff in the trust.


The trust board of the CET delegates extensively to committees, and the current governing body will become a committee of the trust board with the delegated responsibility for the quality of education and the statutory committees and  responsibilities for Special Needs , Safeguarding, Pupil Premium, Looked After Children, at the school level.. Elected parents and staff are represented on the local committee. The trust will ask our governors to stay as the local governing committee for the school. The difference will be that they are accountable to the trust board and will work within the policies and systems set by the trust board.  In many respects this makes governance more manageable for local governors because the financial, personnel, IT/cyber-risk, GDPR, top level Health and Safety etc responsibilities are dealt with by the officers of the trust, working with  our professional, experienced and expert staff, and governors can concentrate on the school and the children.



12(b) If local governance does most of what it does now, what does the Trust Board do?

Academies are probably the most regulated bodies in the public sector, which means that there are additional duties and requirements which don’t apply for maintained schools where everything goes through the Local Authority. The Trust Board takes on all the additional requirements, and has responsibility for all the schools, and is accountable to  the Secretary of State for the quality of education across the schools, for the efficient and effective disbursement of a great deal of public money and publicly and transparently accounting for that under both Company Law and Charities SORP, and as the employer of all the staff. Its approach is strategic; its commitment is to the young people and their future, and the quality of our communities across NE Manchester.



13.     Who decides uniform, terms, dates and holidays?

The headteacher and local governing committee.


14.     Who appoints the staff?

As now, the headteacher is responsible for the appointment and management of staff.


The CET, as the overall employer, is represented on the panels for the appointment of a headteacher along with local governance and with the headteacher in the appointment of deputies


          15.     What exactly is the difference between being a Church of England Voluntary Aided School and a Church of England Academy in a Multi-Academy Trust?

Our Church of England character remains whatever. As Voluntary Aided school  we are part of Rochdale LA, and our budget comes through the LA. Some of the services we use are provided by the LA (e.g. HR, Financial Management) and the costs for this is deducted from our budget at source. Others we buy in (e.g. IT support). 

When we become an academy within the CET, our funding comes direct from the Department for Education to the CET. We pay a percentage to the trust for the frameworks of support that all schools share and benefit from. We are already benefiting from IT support as we prepare for the big investment of Connecting the Classroom.

Trust membership means we have much more immediate access to what we need now, and in the future.


Be on time, school starts at five to nine! Make sure you follow us on Twitter or look at the gallery and Whole School Learning sections of the website under the children's tab to find out about school life at St. John's.