The Governing Board of the Leathersellers’ Federation is proposing to turn the Prendergast family of schools into a Multi Academy Trust (MAT).

The SAIL campaign was formed in 2015 when the then governors made the same proposal and it was defeated. The proposal is back – so is SAIL. 

SAIL is a coalition of parents, community, staff and trade unions that oppose this irreversible change.

Becoming a MAT changes the legal status of the Federation into a business. 



No to MAT

The Federation is making all sorts of promises and statements as to why they have no choice but to become a MAT.


The Federation Chair of Governors Mr Andy Rothery has stated on many occasions that they have to become a MAT to improve governance.


The model for MATS governance is that the MAT consists of the members and the trustees. The members are akin to the shareholders of a company. They have ultimate control over the academy trust, with the ability to appoint some of the trustees and the right to amend the trust’s articles of association. Meaning they can do pretty much want they want with no interference or oversight from any other group. There are no guarantees that what is promised now will not change in the future as members change.

The Federation (MAT proposal FAQs 8.5) states that “The Federation’s experience has been that when governance is weak, school standards are at risk of either slipping or not improving quickly enough and this is reflected in the Ofsted reports at Prendergast Ladywell (2016) and Prendergast Vale (2015)”.

These are old reports.

The current reports cite the effectiveness of leadership and management as GOOD. 

By their own admission governance has been recognised as a strength.

And if needs improvement is there really no way to do this without making an irreversible decision to become a MAT?

There is no guarantee that the Prendergast MAT will not be transferred from one MAT business to another without any say by parents or staff. The experience and the reality of MATS is one of mergers and acquisitions as large MATs subsume smaller MATS all over the UK. 


This decision will be irreversible and this decision over the future of our childrens’ schools is in the hands of a few. Only two out of 21 governors in the Leathersellers’ Federation are elected by parents, with one being elected by staff.

The six week consultation launched on 20th February 2023 and ending 31st March 2023 does not offer any meaningful involvement in the decision to change our schools. 

At every meeting held by the board – for parents, for staff and the public meeting – NO MINUTES have been taken, it is not recording the questions in any meaningful way, so it’s clearly not a genuine consultation. Only submissions through the website will be considered.

This time, our children are being told in assemblies during school time, that academisation would be a good thing for all. This is political lobbying of our children without parents’ knowledge or consent.

We have evidence of a 15-year-old student being forced to lobby other fellow students about the supposed ‘positives’ of MATs. 

We have evidence of students being given ‘homework’ on the benefits of MATs.

How is this even being allowed? 

It is a flagrant disregard of the schools’ duties to ensure the balanced presentation of opposing views on political issues when they are brought to the attention of pupils. If teachers advocated against academisation within school they would be reprimanded.

The board has spent over 2 years, and in excess of £40,000 on this process to date. To finely tune its argument, it has had to hire slick PR and marketing campaigners to help the members stay on message and has given us – school staff, parents and the wider community –  the bare minimum of time for a consultation period. 

It has hidden information and tried to keep us all quiet.

Why should Lewisham Residents – or Southwark – trust the Board?

The board has admitted that there is “not one ‘knock-out’ argument for academisation but a series of marginal gains”.

Why go to all this trouble and expense to make an irreversible decision that will impact the schools and the education of our children forever for “marginal gains”?


Staff wellbeing and morale are essential to delivering quality education to children, and pay and conditions play an important role in staff wellbeing. The Board of Governors have repeatedly said they will seek a binding agreement to keep pay and conditions in line with national agreements. They have also told us that the Department for Education has refused them permission to write this into the articles of association. 

So if there is no agreement that staff regard as binding will the Governors halt this proposal?

On a change as important and irreversible as becoming an academy, we are asking that all parents/carers and staff across the Leathersellers Federation be given the opportunity to cast a binding vote on the matter. 

Sign the petition:

They need to listen to the many.

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