FOUR schools from in and around Shaftesbury have joined the Sherborne Area Schools’ Trust (SAST), which will enable the organisation to become “stronger and more sustainable”.

On July 1 Shaftesbury School, Shaftesbury Church of England (CoE) Primary School, Motcombe CoE Primary School and St Andrew’s CoE Primary School in Fontmell Magna were transferred to the multi-academy trust.

Following the move the Southern Academy Trust, the organisation which was previously made up of the four schools, was dissolved.

Despite joining a new trust, there will no change to the names of the schools, the uniforms or admissions arrangements. The full team of teachers and staff joining from the Southern Academy Trust will remain.

SAST chief executive officer Steve Hillier said: “Coming together provides an exciting opportunity to create a stronger and more sustainable local trust, which will enable us to provide excellent education to all students.

"The staff from the Southern Academy Trust bring with them a wealth of experience and talent, as well as the expertise of state boarding which is provided by Shaftesbury School.”

The trust now has 17 schools across north and west Dorset and south Somerset, including four secondary schools, 13 primary schools and three nursery settings.

The proposal for the transfer was approved in January by the South West Regional School Commissioner Headteacher Board.

Steve added: “There are already shared values with a history of partnership working, which we want to preserve and enhance.

“SAST strongly believes in partnership and collaboration, the pursuit of excellence, promoting holistic lifelong learning and recognising equality and distinctiveness. These align closely to the Church of England vision for education around community, wisdom, hope and dignity”.