Chiltern Hills Academy A Church of England Academy

Create, Aspire and Excel

to 'Live life in all its fullness' (John 10:10)

Proposal for Chiltern Hills Academy to join the Oxford Diocesan Bucks Schools Trust (ODBST)

The Governing Body of Chiltern Hills Academy is proposing to transfer from a Single Academy Trust (SAT) to the Multi Academy Trust (MAT), the Oxford Diocesan Bucks Schools Trust ODBST.


Today, Chiltern Hills Academy is a Single Academy Trust (SAT), whereas the majority of Academy schools are now part of a Multi Academy Trust.  The Department for Education has outlined their expectation that more SATs will transfer into MATs in the next few years and as a result, during the last 5 months the CHA Governing Body has been considering whether it would be better for Chiltern Hills Academy to remain as a SAT or to join a MAT.

As such Governors along with Mr Dobbs and members of the Senior Leadership Team have spoken to a number of MATs which has resulted in the decision to carry out a more detailed evaluation of the Oxford Diocesan Bucks Schools Trust (ODBST).  This evaluation, known as a due diligence process, will enable the Governing Body of CHA to understand the benefits of joining ODBST for the Chiltern Hills community in both the short and longer term as well as allowing ODBST to explore more details about Chiltern Hills Academy.

This Due Diligence process will be taking place during May and once concluded will inform a decision as to whether CHA should move forward with joining the ODBST.


The ODBST is one of the MATs of the Oxford Diocese and therefore aligned with our Church of England status. It currently has 13 schools in the Buckinghamshire area, so is well established in our wider community, and has an understanding of the community we serve in an around Chesham. The Chief Executive Officer, Sulina Piesse, has been providing support to Mr Dobbs and the leadership team over the last year alongside other members of the ODBST team so they are well known to the staff at CHA and also understand the values and aspirations of Chiltern Hills Academy really well.

Key considerations

In considering the options open to our school, the leadership and governors have kept the following considerations at the forefront of our thinking:

  1. How can we do our utmost to ensure that Chiltern Hills Academy continues to thrive?
  2. What is in the best interests of the students and staff in our school, both now and in the future?
  3. How can we best preserve the school’s distinctive Christian ethos and continue to adhere to our vision?
  4. How can we retain a significant role in running our school at a local level?
  5. How can we make sure that joining a MAT will provide benefits to Chiltern Hills students, staff and the community we serve, over and above that already provided by being a SAT?

What does joining a MAT mean in practice?

While joining a MAT could be a significant change for Chiltern Hills, a key criterion in our evaluation is that the MAT should allow the school to continue to have its own vision and values and be able to provide the appropriate education services for our local community.

As such we shall be seeking to ensure that any proposed MAT will enable Chiltern Hills Academy to retain its own identity and values and make decisions relevant to the aspirations and needs of our students.  However, we are also looking for a MAT that will provide long-term security, stronger collaboration with other schools and support for staff and governors to enable us to focus on delivering the best possible outcomes for the students at Chiltern Hills Academy.

How can you find out more?

There are some Frequently Asked Questions and information about the ODBST available on our school  website (below) and the ODBST’s own website can be accessed here:

We are holding a parents’ meeting for you to have the opportunity to ask us any questions about our proposal. ODBST will be present at the meeting so you can talk to them directly. This meeting will be on Tuesday 7th May at 6pm, in the Main Hall.

If you have any further questions, please email them to:

Next Steps

Once the due diligence process has been completed and we have met with staff and parents this half term, a final decision will be made as to whether we wish to join the ODBST, explore other MAT opportunities or stay as a SAT.  The final decision, should we decide to join the ODBST, will rest with the Regional Director in the Department for Education. The outcome will be shared with parents and carers in due course.

We hope that you can attend the proposed meeting  and support us in our decision making as we shape the exciting next step in the future of Chiltern Hills Academy.

Principal:                                                         Chair of Governors:

Tim Dobbs                                                      Andrew Brown


Some frequently asked questions (FAQs) for parents about being part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)

1. Why are we proposing to partner with the Oxford Diocesan Bucks Schools Trust (ODBST)?

There are a number of reasons, for example:

  • to be in a position to choose ourselves the best MAT for our students.  The DfE has an expectation that single academy trusts, like Chiltern Hills, should transfer into a MAT over the next few years. So whilst we can choose, we want to make the right decision before being forced into a MAT we feel is not the right fit for us.
  • we feel the vision we have for our staff and students at Chiltern Hills Academy and the values we uphold align with the ODBST.
  • being part of the ODBST will give us access to wider resources and support.
  • the opportunities for our staff and students would be wide and varied.
  • we are already working very closely with the ODBST and joining them would be the natural next step.

The due diligence process will allow CHA to fully understand the benefits of joining the ODBST.

2. Will the ODBST want us to be the same as the other schools in the Trust?

  • The ODBST is a family of schools; each school’s unique identity is celebrated. The ODBST believe in the importance of leaders and governors to feel empowered to lead their school, making the decisions that best support their learning community. The ODBST work alongside schools, guiding, supporting, challenging, and providing leaders with the resources to make the right decisions for their students.

3. Will the ODBST change the name of our school?

  • No – the name of the school will stay the same.

6. Will the ODBST change our uniform?

  • No, not unless the school leaders and governors decide they want to change it.

7. Will there be changes to the term times?

  • Term dates for all our ODBST schools are the same and are in line with the Local Authority term dates.

8. Will there be changes to the length of the school day?

  • There are no plans to change the length of the school day. Changes could be made but these would only be done after full consultation with parents and staff.

9. If we join the ODBST, will staff have to go to work in other schools in the Trust?

  • The Trust does not move staff from school to school unless the member of staff is involved in a professional development opportunity to share ideas with colleagues in other schools. This is all done with staff and not to staff; no one is made to go to another school.

10. What happens to our governing body?

  • The governing body will remain in place as they are an important part of how a school moves forward. The scheme of delegation clearly sets out the roles and responsibilities of our local governing bodies. ODBST believe they are important contributors to their schools and the ODBST as a whole.

11.  Do we need to consult on our proposals?

  • Unlike academy conversions there is no requirement for the MAT or for us to consult with stakeholders. However, we consider it to be good practice to inform parents, staff and other key stakeholders about the proposals and give you the opportunity to respond.  The meeting for parents is on 7th May 2024 at 6pm.
  • Staff will be formally informed about the transfer of their employment under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (‘TUPE’).

12. Do we need to get permission to join an existing MAT?

  • Yes. We will need to have the consent of the Secretary of State for Education via the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and/or the relevant regional director.

13. Why is the ODBST a successful MAT?

Many schools now work together in a group as one entity to improve and maintain high educational standards. Where a Trust runs a group of schools, it has the power to create a collaborative framework. A group of schools working together in a single entity can do lots of things that are harder for a standalone Academy to do:

  • Teachers work and learn together to improve the way they teach.
  • Schools share practices that make a difference to the quality of teaching and student outcomes.
  • Teachers and leaders work together on the things that matter.
  • Schools continue to improve.
  • ODBST are efficient and thereby have money to invest in supporting pupils to have wider opportunities.
  • ODBST have all students at the forefront of their decision making.

14. Our community really cares about the school and is really engaged. How will you keep parents feeling this is still their school?

  • The support of families is vital to any school’s success, and we would not want those relationships to be undermined in any way if we join the ODBST. In fact, we would hope they could be strengthened further.