20th September 2016
Conversion to Academy Status Consultation Document
Over the past few months the governors of Bader have been considering our position on academy conversion very carefully and have concluded that it is important for us to engage in this change. In common with many other primary schools we have been discussing the potential advantages and routes towards academy status. We have made a successful application to the Department for Education (DfE), and were granted an Academy Conversion Order on 30 June 2016. Alongside this we have been holding discussions with Conyers School about the possibility of joining together to form a Multi Academy Trust (MAT). We believe that Conyers School share our vision for the future. We are now obliged to consult all stakeholders formally.
This consultation will be carried out with as many stakeholders, staff, parents and students as possible to provide the Governors with a clear picture of the school community’s views about this change. The final decision on whether or not to convert to academy status lies entirely with Governing Body. Please note that the formal consultation process will be held until Friday 30th September 2016 and we would encourage you to present your support, views, concerns and questions. All submissions received by this date will be considered at a meeting of the full Governing Body on Wednesday 5th October 2016. Please submit your views either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to the school’s address – Kintyre Drive, Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees TS17 0BY Please mark letters with ‘Academy Consultation’ so that they can be quickly forwarded.
In order to inform you as fully as possible, an outline of what academies are is included below. We have also set out our thinking on why we believe that becoming an academy is right for Bader and have answered some of the questions which might arise.
What is an Academy?
Academies are schools that are funded directly by the DfE. That means that they have greater freedoms and flexibilities as they are independent from their local authority (LA). Schools that are performing well can apply to become academies.
- Freedom from LA control
- Flexibility in delivering the curriculum
- Greater control of their budget as they are funded directly by the DfE. In particular academies are able to receive and spend money currently held back by the LA for management and services.
Each academy or group of schools within a single academy usually takes the legal form of a charitable Academy Trust which holds the ownership of the school’s site, and is the conduit for funding. The Trust does not ‘own’ the school and it cannot make a profit from the wider academy. The Academy Trust appoints the governing body of each school. Academy Trustees have a legal duty to act in the interests of the academy. The freedoms, rights and responsibilities of the Trust are set out in a Funding Agreement between the Trust and the Secretary of State. Academy Trusts are ‘exempt’ charities and are not required to register with the Charity Commission.
The advantages to Bader Primary School
In addition to preserving as much of our independence as possible, there are a number of practical advantages:
As an academy we would be required to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, as we do now, including Maths, English and Science. We would not be required to adopt the National Curriculum. Although we are likely to continue to use the National Curriculum as our guiding document, there may be benefits in this flexibility that we would wish to explore in the future. These flexibilities may allow teachers to exercise more fully their professional judgment in the topics and context in which they teach their subjects and may allow students access to more personalized routes and opportunities.
Academies have control of all of their spending. We would be better able to ensure our focus and investment in the core business of a school – teaching and learning. We would be better able to ensure better value for money and in the services that we choose to buy in to support the academy.
Managing budgets becomes more transparent as the funding becomes aligned to an academic year rather than the financial year.
In contemplating the move to academy status, our vision for Bader Primary School is to work in partnership with other like-minded schools. Initially the MAT will consist of Conyers School and ourselves. It is anticipated that other schools will join us. We feel that we will be able to use the strengths of each school
to maximize the opportunities available to provide the best education for all children educated within the partnership and to develop and maintain the highest standards of teaching and learning. We will strive to retain our current ethos whilst recognizing and respecting the individual qualities of each school in the partnership.
Potential risks to becoming an academy
There will be significant leadership, administration and support time during the application and conversion process. After conversion there will be additional time and responsibilities on our financial and business management staff.
There will be costs involved in conversion, although these are likely to be covered by the £25,000 conversion grant available to all schools going through the process.
There could, in theory, be potential additional financial liabilities e.g. we will become fully liable for the cost of maintaining the buildings. In practice, however, we are responsible for most of these costs now.
What would not change?
There will be very little that obviously changes in the day to day running of Bader. Keeping all that is special about Bader is one of the drivers for conversion. We hope that children and staff will not notice any differences – except perhaps having more resources to invest in teaching and learning.
Initially there will be no immediate or significant changes in our curriculum delivery. We would expect any changes that come about because of academy freedoms to be gradual and evolutionary.
There will still be a Governing Body – with governors drawn, as now, from a range of backgrounds. There will still be an opportunity for elected parents to join the governing body. We do intend to ensure a high level of continuity in our governance during the conversion period.
Academies have a range of explicit freedoms not available to LA schools including setting the pay and conditions of staff and term dates of students. However, the governors of Bader Primary School are committed to adhering to national agreements on pay and conditions.
It should also be noted that the employment rights of all current members of staff will be protected by TUPE, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. This means that these
employment rights will transfer to the Academy Trust under the same terms and conditions of employment. Pension rights and continuity of service record will be preserved.
The school will be subject to the exact same regime and cycle of Ofsted inspections.
The Local Authority will retain a monitoring role for all maintained schools in the Local Authority area including academies.
Further information about Academies can be obtained from the Department for Education website: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/academies/academiesfaq/a0066018/conversion-process This is the definitive source of information about Academies. It clearly encourages schools to convert to academies.
http://antiacademies.org.uk/ – the Anti Academies Alliance is an umbrella group for those opposed to academies.
Submit your views
Post: in writing to the school at Kintyre Drive, Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees TS17 0BY