Significant change proposal for Steiner Academy Frome

Consultation on the proposal to change the age range at Frome Steiner Academy from 3 to 16 to 3 to 13.

The proposal

The Avanti Schools Trust (AST) Board of Trustees and the Steiner Academy Frome Academy Management Committee (AMC) are jointly proposing to change the age range at Steiner Academy Frome from 3 to 16 to 3 to 13. The school will then be re-designated as a middle (deemed primary) school from September 2020. The capacity of the academy will reduce to 540 pupils (from the current 648). The Published Admission Number (PAN) will increase from 54 to 60


Steiner Academy Frome was inspected by Ofsted in November 2018 and found to require special measures. The Secretary of State for Education decided in June 2019 that the academy should, following a rigorous due diligence process, join Avanti Schools Trust (AST). As part of the due diligence process AST was asked by the Department for Education to review the academy’s two-form entry all-through operating model and consider whether it was both educationally and financially sustainable in the longer term.

The Steiner Academy Frome, currently has a total capacity of 648. As of September 27th 2019 there are 426 students on-roll. The school faces a number of very significant challenges and the current level of student numbers is a cause for concern. In recent months AST has undertaken detailed and extensive analysis of the two-form entry all-through operating model at the Steiner Academy Frome and the two other state funded Steiner Academies in the SW region. This has involved consultations and discussions with Department for Education (DfE), the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) as well as with some multi-academy trusts that maintain all-through schools.  AST’s conclusion is that the two form-entry model in the secondary phase is not sustainable financially and the small numbers of students admitted into the secondary phase necessitates a much narrower set of curriculum options when compared to other secondary schools in our MAT and locally. To address this challenge AST initially looked at the option of extending the forms of entry into the secondary phase from two to four. It soon became apparent that this was not a viable option given the lack of basic need for additional secondary places in the Frome area together with the constraints of the current site.

The objectives of the proposal are primarily to ensure that:

  • Parents have access to a coherent and well-planned education from Reception to Year 8.
  • Provision offers pupils the highest standards of education whilst maintaining the nurturing and well-being of all children.
  • All children have access to an exciting and innovative curriculum provision that meets a full range of diverse needs and supports every child achieve their full potential.
  • The school continues to operate as a viable and financially sustainable state school.

Implementing the age range changes

The proposal is for the changes to come into effect from September 2020. The AMC and AST both recognise that there will be a need to implement robust transition plans for the pupils currently in Years 8 to 10 in order that the changes are made in a managed and measured fashion so limiting the impact on the children.  From the date of transfer AST will work closely with Somerset LA admissions team to ensure that suitable places are found for all pupils affected by the proposed change. The LA will take responsibility for running a preference exercise and co-ordinating the process of identifying places and agreeing transfers with local headteachers.

Currently, Steiner Academy Frome has the following pupils on roll:

Year Group NoR
R 54
Y1 50
Y2 50
Y3 52
Y4 50
Y5 29
Y6 26
Y7 26
Y8 22
Y9 16
Y10 26
Y11 25
Total 426

Numbers on roll: changes from September 2020 onwards

Year Group September 2020 September 2021 September 2022 September 2023 September 2024 September 2025 September 2026
R 60 60 60 60 60 60 60
Y1 52 60 60 60 60 60 60
Y2 52 52 60 60 60 60 60
Y3 52 52 52 60 60 60 60
Y4 52 52 52 52 60 60 60
Y5 52 52 52 52 52 60 60
Y6 26 52 52 52 52 52 60
Y7 30 60 60 60 60 60 60
Y8 26 30 60 60 60 60 60
Totals 402 470 508 516 524 532 540

Process of consultation

In order to engage in meaningful and informed consultation we will be providing the opportunity for individuals and institutions to make written submissions about the proposals as follows:

Via an online form: Click here

In writing to:

Significant Change Team
Avanti Schools Trust
Wemborough Road

We will also be holding a consultation meeting in the school which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday October 1 2019 between 16.30 and 18.30. If you would like to attend this meeting, please book a place via the school’s website or telephone the school on 01373 832 804.

The period of consultation for the changes to the age range of Steiner Academy Frome will run from Monday September 30 2019 to Monday October 28 2019.

Update: Statement from Avanti Schools Trust in relation to exemptions to KS1 testing

As parents and staff are aware the three Steiner Academies in the SW (Bristol, Frome and Exeter) are in the process of transferring into Avanti Schools Trust (AST). Currently all three schools have an exemption written into their funding agreements which means that KS1 pupils are exempt from testing.  At the date of transfer to Avanti, the three Steiner Academies will become part of AST and will therefore be bound by the clauses of the AST Master Funding Agreement, which does not hold this exemption. Avanti will not be making a case to the RSC/DfE for exemptions to be included as there is no compelling and exceptional reason to do so and, as is the case with all academy transfers, DfE’s expectation is that the current model funding agreements be used in full.

You are also aware that AST is planning a curriculum review across all three schools in the coming months. This review will focus on the content of the schools’ current curriculum models and their alignment with and to the principles that underpin AST as outlined in the Avanti Way document. We want to make clear at this stage that reviewing the requirement for KS 1 testing will not be part of the review. However, we will be asking the review team to look into best practice in AST schools and nationally regarding how these tests are sensitively administered in the future.