Plymouth High School for Girls Consultation

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The consultation process has now closed, many thanks to all those people who took part.  Below you will see our response to the points raised between the interim feedback and the end of the consultation process.  Consultation responses will be shared with the Regional Schools Commissioner.


Plymouth High and the Trust are committed to ensuring that students and staff enjoy the best possible experience.  Both institutions put the child at the heart of decision making and ensure that the development of teaching and learning is a core priority.  The welfare of all staff is important to Plymouth High and the Trust has made it very clear to us that they share this philosophy.  The Trust aims for the terms and conditions for all staff to be very favourable compared to other schools and we feel this will help us to recruit and retain the best people.


Like all Multi-Academy Trusts, Thinking Schools is an exempt charity regulated by the Department for Education and retains all funds generated.


Consultation questions and answers

Following the letter sent to parents in September we fielded a few questions and thoughts, and we feel the answers are useful to share.

The Trust has three levels of Governance:


  • Academy Advisory Board (AAB) – Each school in the Trust has a stakeholder group to provide the critical friend relationship to the school leadership team. This group is made up of Parents, Staff and Community members


  • Regional Governing Body (RGB) – Each Hub within TSAT has a Regional Governing Body made up of skilled unpaid volunteers that has delegated powers to oversee three elements of the school:
    • Strategic development
    • Education performance
    • Financial performance


  • Trustees – Unpaid volunteers that oversee the Trust and hold the Executive team to account. They are supported by a number of committee including Finance, Staffing, Audit, Curriculum & Standards, Governance & Compliance and Operations


Initially Plymouth High School will have a merged AAB and RGB until the Trust has added further schools in Plymouth.


Yes on both counts.  Thinking Schools started with a girls grammar school and Plymouth High would be the third grammar in the Trust were we to join.  The Trust is committed to maintaining our admissions criteria and we have no plans to ask the RSC or the LA to make any changes to our admission criteria.

The Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) is interested in Plymouth Schools (LA and Single Academy Trusts (SATs)) investigating whether joining a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) is the right thing for them.  


The RSC made it clear that should Governors decide to investigate academisation, we would not be permitted to join a local MAT or to become a SAT, nor were we permitted to join with Plymouth SATs to become a new MAT.  We specifically discussed with the RSC whether they would consider the possibility of Plymouth High forming a local MAT with local Grammar Schools.  The RSC denied this as a possibility.   The only option would be for us to join a MAT new to the City that had a track record of school improvement or to stay with the Local Authority.  We were interested in talking to a MAT that already had Grammar schools as part of its family, had demonstrated effective school improvement with its own schools and could demonstrate a sound financial basis.  Thinking Schools met each of these measures.  


Thinking Schools is also experienced with working remotely across two areas in the South East and will be able to do so with Plymouth High.  However, the plan is for us to form a South West Hub of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust so that local support and collaboration will be part of our experience, alongside the virtual.  Indeed, colleagues at Plymouth High have already started to collaborate with Thinking Schools colleagues on teaching and learning issues to find solutions to common challenges.  Colleagues have enjoyed this experience and have valued the links they have made with the Trust. 

Thinking Schools has a child first approach at the core of its philosophy, just like Plymouth High.  We were only interested in having discussions with Trusts that put the child at the centre of what they do and what they stand for.  The communication we have had with the Trust and the comprehensive due diligence process we have been through has highlighted how Trust initiatives and practises make a difference to the experience the child enjoys at school.  


Like all Multi-Academy Trusts, Thinking Schools is an exempt charity regulated by the Department for Education and retains all funds generated. This money pays for innovative and professional development and leadership at all levels, resourcing, training for all staff, good value procurement and long term planning for systematic material improvement for their schools.  This all translates into giving learners a high quality experience. 


LA schools pay a portion of their annual funding to the local authority for central services and we also buy in other services.  If Plymouth High joins the Thinking Schools, we will get these services from the Trust and benefit from the considerable buying power that the trust commands.

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Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the proposal of Plymouth High School for Girls joining the Thinking Schools Academy Trust.

On this page you will be able to discover more about the process, why we have chosen The Thinking Schools Academy Trust, hear from the CEO and have an opportunity to leave any feedback or questions.

I am fully invested in doing everything I can to help PHSG provide the best possible experiences and life chances for our students.  I absolutely believe that joining Thinking Schools will help us to do just that.


Simon Underdown


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Thinking Schools Academy Trust’s students in harmony as they call for all to #BeKind

Students from all 17 schools across the Thinking Schools Academy Trust sung in harmony as they called for all to #BeKind through a special performance of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman.

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It is being proposed that Plymouth High School for Girls becomes an Academy School and joins the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, which would be the academic sponsor.



The Thinking Schools Academy Trust, is made up of a family of schools that work together to “improve the life chances” of all our children and young people. They are a successful and expanding group of like-minded schools that are committed to providing outstanding education.  Currently there are 16 schools in the Trust located in hubs in Portsmouth, Kent & Medway.  As they have grown, so has their ambition. From the outset TSAT has had schools covering key stages 1–5 and has excellent knowledge and experience of education from pre-school to sixth form.  Their success is due to their excellent understanding of thinking, learning and pedagogical research, and having talented and highly dedicated staff, leaders and governors.

Below is a letter that has been sent to parents in September.



There would be more opportunities to share best practice between staff across the Trust’s schools.  This can be a huge asset, allowing teachers and support staff to share ideas and practices and to help each other grow as professionals.

Trust members work together as a family of schools who share a passion for developing all of our children and young people as independent, resilient and creative thinkers.

There would be more opportunities for staff to undertake training and development, focused at all times on ensuring that outstanding outcomes are achieved for all children through outstanding teaching and learning.

We would benefit from access to and shared expertise of the Trust’s central services such as Marketing and IT.

The school name would not change at the point it becomes an academy, but complimenting branding would be created to show the school is part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust.



PHSG would still have its own name, individual character and identity.  It is vital that this is not lost.  The school would continue to provide children from the local community with an excellent education.

The Thinking Schools Academy Trust believes in local governance and the school would have an Advisory Board to support and challenge the school leadership which would include parents, staff and representatives of the local community

At this stage there is no intention to change the admissions policy.  The school would continue to have the same admission arrangements and the term dates and hours would remain the same.  All current students and staff would transfer to the new academy.



We encourage you all to fill out the questionnaire below.  It is important to us that we hear your views on this proposal.


Although the consultation period will run for a period of five weeks from Friday 9th October, you can discuss any questions, queries or ideas you have about the school with the governors at any time.


St Lawrence Road

tel: 01752 208308