Academy Conversion Consultation
The consultation process for our school to convert to a Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust (DEMAT)has begun.
The consultation period has been extended to February 11th. If you are a parent and have a question, please email the school office - firstname.lastname@example.org - with the heading, 'consultation.'
The questions raised:
For what reasons does the governing body believe that converting to an academy is in the best interests of the children and all other members of the school community?
The governors have been keeping the wider picture of school management and support under review for several years, since academisation and federation of schools came onto the national agenda. We did not feel a need for Holme to follow either path immediately, but were aware that the situation was changing fast. In the end, the Local Authority (County Council) were losing schools to academies and also losing the ability to provide the level of service and support they had hitherto provided. Various services disappeared completely and others were cut back, and this was a process that was clearly going to continue as they lost budget. The LA were not going to be able to support us for much longer, and it is part of Govt. policy that this should happen.
What is the benefit to DEMAT of Holme Church of England Primary School becoming part of their Multi Academy Trust? .
In the longer term we felt the only option was to join an academy, and set about deciding which would be our best choice. DEMAT were very clearly the best fit for us as a Church school, they have a solid structure in place, although this is still being developed, and have already taken control of some of our neighbouring schools. This decision was not rushed, we took over two years to investigate options, going to meetings with several different providers before confirming DEMAT as our chosen one.
FGB has responded.
The question is slightly confusing as there is no contract as such. If the question relates to can the conversion be reversed once a school academises and return to the LA, then the answer is no. The DfE can re-broker falling academies should they deem the existing MAT is not doing everything it should in the interests of the children. At this stage we have not been in this situation.
Please provide examples of remedial action that would be taken should an academy run into a deficit.
As a Trust we would approach this like the FGB, and Leadership would currently – review expenditure against income and come up with a plan to ensure the school was financially viable. As a Trust we would work with the Governors and Headteacher to ensure there was no deficit or a plan to take an academy out of deficit. This is about being financially responsible as academies cannot be in a deficit position.
Currently there is strong relationship between Friends of Holme School (FOHS), Head of School and Executive Head Teacher. Currently the decision on how to spend the money raised by FOHS is by the senior members of the school, will this change?
No this will not change in terms of the Trust becoming involved as this is an operational arrangement. This is a decision for the Executive Headteacher and currently works well so there are no plans to change this.
By becoming an academy will that improve funding to our school?
DEMAT follows the Government funding formula so the school would receive the same funding as they currently receive per the LA allocation.
Will funding be allocated according to the number of children in a school? Will this be disadvantageous to our school given that we are small?
As above, funding for the academy will be based on the Government funding formula, which is based on an AWPU (Age weighted pupil unit), deprivation, LAC, EAL and mobility factors (based on school census data, unaffected by academisation). Each academy will receive a ‘lump sum’ value which is set by the LA. In Cambridgeshire this is currently £110,000. Typically, this advantages smaller schools as the per pupil value is increased by the proportion of pupils vs the lump sum - £110,000 split 320 ways is less than £110,000 split 100 ways – however the impact of this is dependent on each cohort and their needs.
Will this potentially raise administrative costs for running the schools?
This is a matter that the Governors will have considered as part of their due diligence.
Also, isn't an academy best suited to struggling schools and makes no difference to good or outstanding schools?
No this is not the case at all. As a Trust we have a mixed portfolio of academies within our Trust.
What would the leadership structure look like?
Please refer to the answer in Question 4. There is a very strong leadership team currently in place and any changes required due to ensuring financial viability would be made in conjunction with the Governors and existing Leadership Team. Currently the Governors and Executive Headteacher have to review the staffing structure to ensure it is financially viable but delivers a high-quality education for the children. This is no different in an academy setting.
What would the Governor structure look like?
The Full Governing Body becomes a Local Governing Body (LGB). As you have a strong FGB the Trust would not seek to change the membership. The Governing body within an Academy setting is based around all governors having the right skills, and the right balance of parents, members of the community and staff representation. The main changes of responsibility relate to 1) the Trust appoint the Headteacher (or Executive Headteacher in this case), they also performance manage the Headteacher and make decisions regarding pay awards and approve the school’s budget. However, the LGB are an integral part of this process. I would strongly encourage any parent who wishes to influence the future of the school to join the LGB.
Would it still be a COE of school?
At what level would the decision be made for Holme school?
The question is slightly confusing – if the question relates to the remit of the Executive Headteacher; they are directly responsible for the day to day running of the school and the Trust only become involved should things not be operating as they should. The Trust work closely with all of our Headteachers and part of our role is to monitor school performance as well as the performance of the Headteacher
The consultation letter states that DEMAT is committed to raising standards and enhancing teaching and learning. Please can you advise how DEMAT achieves these aims, and why it feels it is better able to do this than the local authority?
The trust shares accountability for pupil outcomes and the quality of teaching and learning with senior leaders and governors. As well as carrying out regular monitoring, and delivering professional development opportunities for staff, we provide bespoke school support that meets the individual requirements of schools, adapting and adopting strategies to the context of each school
We support schools in areas such as:
- senior and middle leadership development
- Ofsted readiness
- school leadership systems, e.g. – school development planning, self-evaluation, assessment data analysis
- strategies for narrowing the gap and ensuring the highest outcomes for learners covering the full spectrum of abilities from vulnerable groups through to gifted and talented learners
- SEND / Inclusion/ Pupil Premium health checks and reviews
- effective governance
- Property and Estates
- Health and Safety
In regard to curriculum change, and where change is seen as in the best interest; what is the process for change with consent? What does consent mean in this instance?
Although we expect schools to deliver the Programmes of Study in the National Curriculum as a basic requirement, we also want schools to design a bespoke curriculum which is exciting and meets the needs of their pupils, including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. We encourage schools to be creative with their curriculum planning, and there is no consent process, although we monitor the school’s curriculum rationale as well as the quality of work and progress across the wide curriculum.
Are there any changes planned to be made to the staffing team, or staff terms and conditions?
There are no immediate plans to make changes to the staffing structure within the school. If going forward, staffing changes are required there will be a full consultation with staff and unions. The trust currently recognises national conditions of service for teachers and support staff in schools. DEMAT is seeking to harmonisation support staff terms and conditions due to regional variations however, there will a full consultation with recognised unions and staff as part of that process.
Will the staff already in post have to reapply for their jobs?
Individuals will be transferring in their current roles and do not have to reapply as part of the TUPE transfer.
Will there be any staffing changes to enable early assessment and access to support to match the needs of SEN children?
Academisation does not affect processes that the school currently have in place to assess and deliver appropriate support for SEN children.
Will there be a reduction in administration staff?
There are no current plans to restructure the admin team.
How can the academy recruit and retain the best if they may put them on different terms and conditions to existing staff?
We will always strive to ensure we attract and retain excellent employees by providing a range of competitive employment terms as well as training and development opportunities, whilst ensuring that the trust remains financially sustainable.
Would there be a senior board against all the school or individual schools?
The DEMAT Board of Trustees provides strategic governance for the Trust; the LGB provides governance at an academy level. Please refer to the Trust Governance Handbook on the DEMAT website for more information.
Where are they saving costs?
This is a matter that the Governors will have considered as part of their due diligence