Academy status - pros and cons.

(93 Posts)
LauraNorder Mon 04-Apr-11 20:50:56

I am attending a meeting later on in the week about the possibility of our school becoming an Academy. I am a recently elected Parent Governor and don't know a lot about it but have been asked to read up a bit and come prepared to avoid lengthy explanations.

So what are the pros and cons and also is there a good on line resource I could tap into to find out more?

LauraNorder Mon 04-Apr-11 21:08:04

bump

TalkinPeace2 Mon 04-Apr-11 21:27:41

LOOOONNGGG threads about this on secondary....

LauraNorder Mon 04-Apr-11 21:29:37

Is there? Thank you I shall search over there, thanks smile

I don't know much about pros and cons, our primary has just become a academy trust with the local secondary (who have been an acedemy for a while). So in our case much of the necessary managerial background stuff for transition had been completed already, and the increase in money that will no longer going to the LEA will help fund straight year group classes from sept (we currently have 1 split year group with a R/ yr1 and a yr1/ yr2 class) The local secondary head says that he funds small music clasess so funding a class of 8 (yr2) will be no different. (my dd1 is yr1 so this has been a major issue for me).

Using the trust method also allows us (a small local primary) to access more specialist teaching staff, so science and language specialist come and work with the older children for a few weeks, broadening the curriculum delivery for our students.

I realise that this doesn't necessarily help you but it may be a possibility? (If not I've bumped the thread anyway!)

meditrina Mon 04-Apr-11 21:42:58

The main con (which us rarely mentioned) is that the school falls underr the direct control of the SoS Education. At present, there is no question of central government diktat interfering directly with schools, but a future Government, who may have markedly different views and a penchant for central control and micromanagement, would find everything adminstratively in place to do things quite differently and in effect run schools from Whitehall.

dikkertjedap Tue 05-Apr-11 17:06:18

I am not an expert but I thought one of the big issues was that all staff would get new contracts and would no longer be part of the teacher super annuation fund or whatever their pension fund is called thus saving the school a lot of money. Please correct me it this is wrong, but it is what I seem to recall when they came up with the whole Academy idea.

dikkertjedap Tue 05-Apr-11 17:32:16

Actually, I think that existing teachers and support staff will stay in their current pension scheme (not 100% sure about support staff though) but that the academy got discretion what they offer new staff. I am not sure if the school as such would be much better off financially. A lot comes down how much the chief executive/head etc will be paid - in all likelihood very significantly more, so that money will not be available to do things for the children. What concerns me most is the lack of the accountability of the people who will run the academy, in the government's framework they get a lot of power and little obligation to consult those affected ...

IndigoBell Tue 05-Apr-11 18:43:55

Staff contract and pensions will remain the same.

zanzibarmum Tue 05-Apr-11 18:56:51

From a parent/student perspective
Pros - more money for the school than would otherwise be the case
curriculum freedom
more scope to innovate in terms of school days etc

Cons
- none

TalkinPeace2 Tue 05-Apr-11 19:19:10

zanzibar

until something goes wrong and the support network of the LEA is no longer there.
You will be reliant on bods from whitehall sorting out if your head and governing body come to loggerheads.

And LEAs provide huge economies of scale that will be lost
let along the cost of buildings insurance (the elephant in the room if ever there was one)

lingle Tue 05-Apr-11 20:51:36

"until something goes wrong and the support network of the LEA is no longer there"

yes, that's what worries me. under our present head, all would be fine - better even - but what if she left/retired/fell under a bus and we got a rubbish new one?

IndigoBell Tue 05-Apr-11 21:30:45

The LEA doesn't do anything about rubbish HTs!

Especially in this day and age where it's almost impossible to find HTs.

The reality is if you have a rubbish head you're stuffed whether you're a maintained school or an academy.

In both cases you have someone to appeal to who will do their best to uphold the schools position. And in both cases appealing will sour all the relationships.

If you get to the point where you need to appeal you are pretty stuffed.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 05-Apr-11 21:44:48

indigo,
that may be the case in your LEA but in this one they have a clear policy of parachuting in new heads and CofGs to failing schools to protect the kids' education
it is still very unclear how academy status will assist in governance and maintaining education standards in the long term

IndigoBell Tue 05-Apr-11 21:49:58

Hmmmm. Luckily I know nothing about failing schools.

I do know that a HT can be rubbish and the school not be failing. And then I don't think you'll find any LEA who will do anything.....

TalkinPeace2 Tue 05-Apr-11 21:54:59

Indigo,
Too true
if the boxes are ticked to keep OFSTED happy, nobody will lift a finger
but once OFSTED ring the alarm, most LEAs swing into action PDQ.
In an Academy however, it is up to the sponsor, the governing body or the Secretary of State to take action.
The first cases are going on at the moment and the outcomes for the pupils are not looking good as there is no "plan".

singersgirl Tue 05-Apr-11 21:57:00

'More money' is a red herring. The Academy proposals say quite clearly that no school should be either financially advantaged or disadvantaged by becoming an Academy. The £20 k set up cost will get eaten up in insurances, lawyers' and accountants' fees etc. Schools will need new business managers to deal with the extra work.

The ideology behind it is deeply flawed. What does this government want to see? A series of competitive silos, each trying to outbid each other for the best teachers? A further advantage for schools in affluent areas who can attract professional and knowledgeable governors over those schools who struggle to attract governors at all?

It's trying to dismantle state education from the inside out.

singersgirl Tue 05-Apr-11 21:58:01

And don't forget there ARE NO SPONSORS for the new generation of Academies. There is no more money, just money differently allocated. And a whole lot more responsibility for a bunch of unpaid volunteers.

Kez100 Wed 06-Apr-11 05:22:51

The cons exist but just cannot be quantified. By taking on Academy Status you are taking on more risk because the LEA are no longer your stretcher bearer. If nothing goes wrong then fine (and you may have pocked the financial carrots which seem to be available) but if it does and it's not an insured risk then where do you go as an Academy? You will have to find this money from a budget which is "of no advantage over maintained schools" . It's annoying no one is giving details of what that means but beyond a year there appear to be no actual numbers. That's the main problem that I can see.

MM5 Wed 06-Apr-11 08:24:17

I think it all depends on the Local Authority that you belong to. Some are absolutely rubbish! The support that some LEAs give to schools is not worth the money that is spent on it. There is no common direction.

Many Academies, particularly primaries, are joing chains with other primaries or with secondaries or combinations of both. This provides the business support and academic support that they want.

A local primary school became an academy in a chain of schools around the area. I was talking to the said that he once paying 10% top slice to the LEA for services plus another £30,000 to £40,000 for other SLAs. He now pays approximately 4% for all the services he needs plus some added extras he has never had before because the LEA said the school didn't need them though the school felt they did! This has also meant that the academy can keep the level of teaching staffing at the high levels it has (1 class teacher, 1 TA plus 1 part time TA per class) without looking at redundancy. Also, because they are in a chain of academies, they get economies of scale that are real with no add on cost that some LEAs attach to their services.

So, you need to bone up on your LEA as well as the whole Academy Status situation.

Loubispex Tue 07-Jun-11 22:07:58

Am in the same position as the original post here - recently elected parent governer and called for an 'extraordinary' meeting this week! Talk about in at the deep and & confused.com!!!!
The thing I'm not clear on is that our school is on special measures and I thought that ment that we can't apply for academy status? So we need a sponsor right? And what happens if we don't get one????

Sassyfrassy Wed 08-Jun-11 06:40:59

Schools in special measures can be forced to convert to academy status, under the leadership of another school. It can be an effective way of getting rid of staff apparently.

MM5 Wed 08-Jun-11 07:05:54

Loubispex,

Schools in Special Measures can become academies. Sassyfrassy is right with being forced for it to happen if the school is not making sufficent improvement under Section 8 inspections. You are right, you will HAVE to have a sponsor. The DfE has a list of potential sponsors and will even help to broker a deal with a sponsor. But, the school must be proactive in finding the right kind of sponsor for the school and not just taking one because they offer. There are many different kinds of sponsors ranging from buisnesses like the Co-op, to semi buisness educational base like Oasis to truly educational trusts that have been set up by chains of schools (many of these are coming from groups who became foundation schools in a shared trust and are now becoming academies).

What happens if you don't get one? Hmmmm.... I don't know. I have never heard of a school looking for a sponsor not getting one. The school school have a YPLA rep that the headteacher can direct questions and seek advice from.

Good luck!

Essiebee Wed 30-Nov-11 13:07:26

Very alarming to read pleas from two new governors, who clearly know very little about education, for information about Academy status. These people have the power to change the status of the school with apparently no experience or knowledge to draw upon; should the school become an academy the Governing body will be in control and make decisions about how the school is run. Terrifying.

CardyMow Wed 30-Nov-11 13:18:26

That's not unusual. I was at a consultation meeting for my DD's Secondary last night - and the Chair of Governors from my DS's primary was there, as they are apparently starting the process there too. She knew less about Academy status than I as a parent did...

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