Primary school consultation on becoming an academy

(26 Posts)
ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Thu 20-Mar-14 18:02:41

Why do I get a funny feeling in my toe about this? grin
School previously did very well, good and outstanding ofsted reports, until a change of HT the most snobby arrogant unavailable person I have ever met in 20 years of dealing with schools
Is it a good or bad thing? What are the pros and cons?

TIA

Nennypops Thu 20-Mar-14 21:01:29

Bad. There are no longer any sensible financial advantages for the school, particularly when you set any money they receive against the fact that they will have to pay for lots of things that councils currently pay for. The school would no longer be bound by things like the law on admissions, and doesn't have to have qualified teachers.

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Thu 20-Mar-14 22:18:49

Thanks for your reply smile
Until this I'd only ever heard of secondary schools turning into academies and they have been struggling schools (in my experience only, others may know differently) it's meant a change in uniform and higher pay for the head teacher, lower pay for the teachers.
Think I'm most worried because I know so little else about it.
Also think that the decision has already been made and the consultation is just lip service blush

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Thu 20-Mar-14 22:21:29

Thought they had to stick to the law on admissions with looked after children being first and statemented children being second confused

ravenAK Thu 20-Mar-14 22:25:13

By the time anyone mentions 'consultation', it's a done deal.

Total racket.

prh47bridge Thu 20-Mar-14 23:53:35

no longer be bound by things like the law on admissions

Not true. They become their own admission authority, just like VA schools. That means they can set their own admission criteria. But they are still bound by the law and the Admissions Code.

looked after children being first and statemented children being second

Not quite. Looked after children are first. Statemented children don't even go on the admission criteria. A child with a statement naming the school is admitted automatically even if the school is already full.

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Fri 21-Mar-14 00:38:34

Ah prh I've seen your posts and quite hoped that you would comment here. And I think muminlondon or similar has posted some good links I've checked out too, thanks ..

Looks like there will be sod all point in rallying the parents then but being the stubborn cow I am I'll give it a go

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Fri 21-Mar-14 00:39:21

Sorry, raven, thanks for your reply too. It's exactly what I was thinking x

Nennypops Fri 21-Mar-14 06:53:43

Not true. They become their own admission authority, just like VA schools. That means they can set their own admission criteria. But they are still bound by the law and the Admissions Code.

Not so. They are bound by their funding agreements. Most do say they must follow the law on admissions, but there is no guarantee that that will continue. Also the facts demonstrate that in practice many manipulate their admissions - just look at the results of some secondaries which are totally unfeasible for a genuinely comprehensive intake.

brettgirl2 Fri 21-Mar-14 08:13:10

Hi op DD's school is in a very similar position by the sound of it.

PM me your email address and I'll send you some info. Don't want to discuss in a public forum.

reddidi Fri 21-Mar-14 09:06:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

niminypiminy Fri 21-Mar-14 09:15:43

The academy conversion process, set out by the DfE here states that governing bodies must consult parents on the decision to convert, but only once they have taken the decision.

The big question is whether it will be a stand-alone, or converter academy, or whether it will join in with a chain or cluster of academies, or be a sponsored academies. In the last two cases, you need to be aware that the sponsor, or chain, takes a top-slice of the school's budget to pay for services that would otherwise be provided by the local authority. When we were going through this process I did quite a bit of digging on this, and the top-slice is normally between 2-7% of the school's budget (with larger rather than smaller being the norm), and in our case, the amount that the LA retained is 1.1% of total budget allocation. Plus if the school is in good financial health the grant that can be made available to cover the considerable costs of conversion is normally not available. So, financially, there are no advantages to conversion.

There is also a loss of accountability. Schools are no longer democratically accountable through locally-elected councillors, and the governing bodies of academies, though they have to have 2 parents, do not have to have any other local people on -- academies are governed by a board of trustees, which takes all the financial and strategic decisions, and the school has board of governors which is responsible to the trustees. And the whole thing reports directly to the Secretary of State for schools -- so if an academy is failing they can't, for example, get help from the local authority; and if a sponsor isn't providing the support they should do, or a chain is moving all the best teachers from your school to other academies in the chain (as they are entitled to do because teachers are employed by the chain rather than the school) you have no recourse to an independent authority -- except the Secretary of State.

niminypiminy Fri 21-Mar-14 09:19:19

Also, the law on the funding agreements has yet to be fully tested, but it seems that the contract between the Secretary of State and the academy, which contains the funding agreement, lies outside large parts of regulatory legislation.

prh47bridge Fri 21-Mar-14 09:47:21

They are bound by their funding agreements

Every single one of which says that they must follow the Admissions Code. Whilst it is open to a future government to change that it is highly unlikely they would do so, especially as it would involve negotiating a new funding agreement with each school individually. Much simpler to just change the Admissions Code.

lies outside large parts of regulatory legislation

Not sure what you mean by that. The funding agreement is subject to normal contract law.

the school has board of governors which is responsible to the trustees

For stand-alone academies the governors are normally the trustees. There may be some where the governors and trustees are separate but I haven't come across any.

Regarding the makeup of the governing body, for a community school this currently consists of parent governors, staff governors, LA governors and community governors. Note that the community governors are appointed by the other governors. Academies do not have to have LA governors but they can have one if they wish. They are not required to have community governors. They do have to have parent and staff governors.

niminypiminy Fri 21-Mar-14 10:00:42

The funding agreement is subject to normal contract law.

Yes, that's what I thought. But there was an article in the Church Times a couple of months ago, which I now can't access because it's behind a paywall, by a lawyer arguing that the contractual relationship between the Secretary of State and the academy was not, in fact, subject to large parts of the statutory regulatory framework. I can't remember it in great detail, but it was quite a surprising argument -- and from a surprising source, too.

niminypiminy Fri 21-Mar-14 10:03:21

prh you are right about governance in stand-alone academies -- I was thinking of governance in a multi-academy trust. The OP hasn't clarified what the situation is with this school.

Damnautocorrect Fri 21-Mar-14 10:08:33

The plan is to turn all schools into academy's.
For me schools should not be run as businesses (like the nhs) so I understand your toes feeling!!

prh47bridge Fri 21-Mar-14 10:21:36

arguing that the contractual relationship between the Secretary of State and the academy was not, in fact, subject to large parts of the statutory regulatory framework

Interesting. I haven't seen that article. If you manage to find a copy that isn't behind a paywall please PM me the link.

What I know is true is that academies are not directly subject to a lot of the law that applies to maintained schools. Instead their funding agreements require them to comply with most of the relevant law. I have heard an argument that this means the requirement is weaker but I am unconvinced. I think it depends on how effective Ofsted and the EFA are at enforcement. Being subject to the law doesn't seem to stop some community schools breaking the law.

For me schools should not be run as businesses

For what it is worth an academy is run by a charitable trust. There are those who think that academies should be allowed to make a profit and there are many who think that is the long term aim but it is not the current situation. And of course being a charity is no guarantee against abuse, but nor is being a community school.

Looks like there will be sod all point in rallying the parents then but being the stubborn cow I am I'll give it a go

Good luck. But you are probably right that conversion is likely to happen if the governors want it. For what it is worth over 50% of secondary schools are now academies.

Damnautocorrect Fri 21-Mar-14 13:01:05

It's the sponsorship, the employment of business managers, accountants (ok these were generally bought in from the borough previously but now full time accountants are needed) that I struggle to associate with education. It should be about kids going to school and getting the best education I don't believe being run as businesses can mean the best for all children

prh47bridge Fri 21-Mar-14 13:53:46

In my view sponsorship is a good thing in that it brings extra money into the school.

Quite a few community schools have business managers these days. It often seems to be a beefed up School Secretary role looking after things like the budget, premises management, managing non-teaching staff, etc. It isn't directly about education but it is all stuff that needs to be done.

If a business is running a school it should be focussed on delivering the best education it can within its income. That is, after all, what happens at independent schools.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Mar-14 15:31:43

In my view, conversion to academy status has more to do with some Local Authorities making it clear they expect all schools left under their control to jump or be pushed within the next few years, anyway (given that they have made most of their staff redundant already), than with governors wanting this to happen. If the school is no longer as well run as it was, as the OP implies, has maybe recently had less good SATs results than in the past, and is expecting an Ofsted inspection in the near future where it expects to be downgraded, then it may well have decided it's better to jump now and have some control over HOW it academises, than to be pushed into an academisation route over which it has pretty much no control, courtesy of Michael Gove's political agenda.

kesstrel Fri 21-Mar-14 16:30:13

"Also the facts demonstrate that in practice many manipulate their admissions - just look at the results of some secondaries which are totally unfeasible for a genuinely comprehensive intake."

How do you know this? There are a lot of things about the way many schools currently teach that cognitive science has shown are intrinsically likely to produce poor results for lower ability children. These include little teacher talk, little testing or practice, lots of "independent" group work, no attempt to remediate poor reading using phonics, and more. Changing these instructional practices and priorities can produce surprising results. Teachers who have never known anything but the standard "progressive" model have no idea can be achieved.

TalkinPeace Fri 21-Mar-14 18:00:00

I am one of those who has absolutely no faith in the governance, accountability and oversight of the Academies, be they sponsored or stand alone.

Head teachers have been cut adrift from their support networks.
Some are becoming egomaniacs
others are just hiding
but in many, many cases, the lack of a "critical friend" from the LEA is already having a devastating impact.
Schools that were genuinely outstanding are crashing into special measures (and Ofsted are right to make it so)
with no exit route clear - because the LEA cannot intervene and nobody else will

I am really glad that my kids are at the upper end of their schooling and feel really sorry for any child in year 7 down to year 3

prh47bridge Fri 21-Mar-14 18:44:03

nobody else will

The process for dealing with an academy in special measures has been used a number of times. Several have been into special measures and come out again.

TalkinPeace Fri 21-Mar-14 18:47:31

and in again having not dealt with the real issue

sorry but I utterly remain to be convinced.

but lets not derail the thread with out permanently opposing views grin

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