Kevin Robertson, partner and head of the schools and academies team at Womble Bond Dickinson, has reacted to the publication of the whitepaper.

“The newly published Schools White Paper has been highly anticipated by the education sector and related partners for some time. It represents an opportunity for the government to tangibly outline how education will form a key part of its levelling up agenda.

“The introduction of a limit on the proportion of schools in an area that can be run by one Trust – presumably to help mitigate risk of single/critical point of failure in the event that a Trust fails – would need to be detailed further to clarify what that proportion would be, and which schools would be included in the measurement.

“New clarification around what is meant by a ‘strong’ trust given in the paper is a welcome step forward. But despite this, the evident lack of clarity around what constitutes ‘too few’ strong trusts would need to be addressed before Multi-Academy Trusts can be effectively established by local authorities when required.

“Several notable proposals have been unveiled, including the proposal to consult on schools being able to effectively "submit a transfer request" to be allowed to move to a stronger trust. It remains to be seen how the possibility of a "want away" school would impact on school-to-school support within a trust and the balance of control between trust boards and school governing bodies.

“The paper also highlights the intention to consolidate the current various trust regulatory strands into one set of statutory provisions. This will be welcomed by all those involved in the currently complex system.

“While local authorities will be encouraged to see them being described as remaining at the heart of education, there are questions to be answered around some of the finer details and how some of the more ambitious proposals will work in practice.”