East Grinstead, West Sussex

Hurst Education Trust

The Governors at St. Mary’s CE Primary School are always looking for further opportunities to fulfil our vision of ‘inspiring curious, resilient learners who flourish in the world God has created’, enabling our children to be the best they can be and prepare them for the next stage in their learning journey - socially, emotionally, academically, morally and spiritually.

In March 2022, the government published a white paper which stated all schools were required to join a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) by the end of 2030.  As a result the Governors and the Leadership team began to explore options for our school in conversations with both the Diocese of Chichester and other local partners.

While the government has now withdrawn the immediate need to academise, the future direction for all schools is towards academisation, with the Local Authority having less capacity to support the maintained schools in West Sussex.

After much research and investigation, the Governors felt that being part of a Multi Academy Trust that matches our ethos and the ambition we have for our children, would mean that our school could provide even more opportunities and further improve outcomes for everyone.

In arriving at this conclusion, school leaders undertaken a thorough due diligence process over several months. In order to ensure we are making a fully informed decision for our school community, we have carried out:

  • Discussions with the MATs, which are available to us, as a Voluntary Aided Church School
  • Attended engagement sessions with presentations from MATs
  • Welcomed MAT representatives to St. Mary’s school and Governor meetings
  • Visited schools within MATs, and had discussions with their headteachers
  • Explored the benefits and potential issues with the headteachers, staff and governors from schools within the MATs
  • Assessed the capacity of West Sussex to adequately support our school
  • Engaged with local schools to assess the locality (East Grinstead) and West Sussex picture for academisation

Throughout the process, Hurst Education Trust (HET) consistently demonstrated that they would support our ambitions for our school, providing resources, opportunities and the backing that would not otherwise be available if we remain part of West Sussex County Council. The strong team of professionals at HET would also work with us in securing even better experiences and outcomes for our children, all without losing our unique identity and our characteristics, which makes our school special.

Our proposal now is to establish a formal partnership achieved through the school converting to an academy within the Hurst Education Trust. This Trust has been established as a partnership between the Diocese of Chichester and Hurstpierpoint College. It is a Diocesan academy trust, co-sponsored by the Diocese of Chichester.

The conversion will bring little change to our day-to-day activity in school. There will be no change to the staffing in the school as a direct result of any conversion. The key requirement throughout this process has been to focus on the benefit for all our children. The school leadership sees this as an exciting and positive step for the school and we hope that you will agree.

If we join Hurst Education Trust, we would:

  • Keep our school name
  • Keep our school uniform
  • Maintain and enhance the school’s Christian ethos
  • Keep our vision and values
  • Keep our own school curriculum
  • Continue to have a local governing body, including representation from staff, parents, our parish churches and the local community, as we do now.


Benefits to children and staff would include:


  • Strong focus on improving experiences and outcomes for all children.
  • Children benefiting from access to some of the extensive facilities at Hurstpierpoint College, including astroturf pitches, swimming pool, theatre, science labs, music, art, specialist design technology and use of minibuses.
  • Children having opportunities for joint activities with other schools in the Trust and the College.
  • Comprehensive support services provided by Hurst Education Trust will free up senior leadership and governor time, enabling greater focus on educational priorities.
  • Economies of scale achieved with some sharing of resources between Hurst Education Trust schools, and also with Hurstpierpoint College, together with some financial savings will ensure that we will be able to put more resource into the classroom.
  • Staff receiving outstanding training and development opportunities and access to professional expertise at Hurstpierpoint College.

There will be no impact regarding secondary school options when your child leaves St. Mary’s at the end of year six.


Please find below the consultation letter with an invitation to participate in the consultation process, with links to a survey and an invitation to a meeting. Also attached is a FAQ document with responses to questions they have been asked in the past.