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...

GetDownNesbitt Wed 30-Nov-11 13:19:03

Cons are lack of any access to LA teams unless head chooses to buy them in. Lack of collaborative working. Total change to teachers' pay and conditions. Governors effectively become school managers - my husband is a governor at an academy, and now known as a company director, with the governors as the board of directors.

But, looks like every school will be going this way eventually. Cause a new name and a new uniform solves everything...

prh47bridge Wed 30-Nov-11 14:27:15

An academy does not lose all access to LA teams. Some services continue to be provided centrally such as Ed Psych, SEN assessments and PRUs.

There is no reason why academies cannot work collaboratively. Many do. Indeed, the high performing schools converting to academies at the moment are required to work with an underperforming school to help it improve.

Existing teachers retain their current pay and conditions under TUPE. An academy can, however, choose to vary pay and conditions for new teachers.

admission Wed 30-Nov-11 15:26:34

An academy has the ability to purchase services from whoever they choose, just as any school has at the moment. In reality community schools buy back services from the local authority for things like HR, legal, training, payroll etc. When a school becomes an academy they can continue to buy back the services from the LA, but it has to be at full cost recovery which is typically about 10 % more. Given how strapped for cash LAs are, it is not going to be long before all schools will have to pay full cost recovery as the LA simply does not have the funding to support services that are not legally required. I would also point out that legally the Governing Body set the budget and therefore are responsible for all purchases for which responsibility is then devolved down to the school staff. The head teacher will have a maximum allowable spend per item above which any spending decision has to be taken by the governing body or a committee of same.

CardyMow Wed 30-Nov-11 17:26:43

What would happen if the LA decided NOT to become the middle-man? If the LA contracted so much it was not able to offer the services for the Academies to 'buy back', would the Academies then have to find a private practitioner?

What about if one Academy (A) has 10% of pupils with SEN (not statemented), and the next one up the road (B) only has 1%? Would they both get the same funding per pupil overall, or would the Academy A get more money than Academy B? Because from what I have read, it seems that both the Academies will get the same funding - which means that the children with non-statemented SEN at Academy A will have less budget available to spend on non-statemented dc than Academy B would. How does THAT work?

Surely Academy A would then have a financial incentive to do more to 'manage out' the SEN dc? Where would that leave dc with SEN that were already at Academy A before it became an Academy?

prh47bridge Wed 30-Nov-11 18:04:35

If the LA is unwilling/unable to provide services to academies they must either provide them in-house or find someone else willing to provide them.

As I have tried to explain to you a couple of times, the answer to your question depends on where you are. In most LAs both academies would get pretty much the same funding per pupil overall.

Now imagine that they are both maintained schools. Maintained School A has 10% of pupils with SEN, Maintained School B only has 1%. In most LAs both schools get pretty much the same funding per pupil and would be expected to fund services for non-statemented SEN pupils from within their own budgets. By your argument, Maintained School A therefore has a financial incentive to manage out the SEN children. Whether or not you agree with it, that is the system established by the last government.

In actual fact Academy A will be in a slightly better position than Maintained School A because the Academy will get a small amount of additional funding for each child on SA or SA+.

academyblues Wed 30-Nov-11 19:38:26

Another little mentioned 'con' is that academies are much less regulated eg they have no obligation to provide education for a certain number of days each year as maintained school are'

sayingno.org/cms/2011/11/27/no-legal-obligation-to-educate-children-for-a-certain-number-of-days-dfe-says/

academyblues Wed 30-Nov-11 19:40:18

prh, who pays for the actual SEN provision ie the day to day teaching in an academy?

HattiFattner Wed 30-Nov-11 20:08:42

one of the areas our confederation of 11 schools looked at was social exclusion...we live in an area of high social deprivation (on 40th centile) on the border and in the same area as schools on the 99th centile. Ie we are a poor area in a rich borough. The issue that concerned us was that academies get to select their own admission criteria. Given the choice, who would not jump quickly and select an area that is a) wealthy and b) has a high proportion of intelligent families? Of course your results would be great, your parents supportive financially - whats not to like?

The concern was that children from poor areas would all end up in the same schools, creating "ghetto" schools of children - having to pick up children from potentially high need areas, and vulnerable families like travellers, children with SEN, children where there are safeguarding concerns...

(our school had 50+ % children at end KS1 in school action or School action plus. Average 30% every year).

We already see this in our area - more well to do parents drive their children 4 miles to another infants rather than use ours, because of the high number of SEN kids. Plus they want to get little Tarquin into school X, which already has an admission policy that favours children from certain social classes schools.

So its the very worst form of social engineering.

It was felt, in our federation, that we would be forced by weight of numbers to go academy at some point - after all, who wants to be left with a catchment area of 4 rough council estates, spread over two districts? However, only one primary has, as yet, decided to go for academy status, and they cannot, as they got a satisfactory ofsted (and you need an outstanding or to be a failing school to get academy status.)

There were also concerns about finances....recently the council offered internet services at a HUGE premium, most schools in the area accepted the term! We opted out, and made a cost saving of several thousands. Likewise, building work - council offered their contractors at £70k; we opted out and got work done for £30k.

Where schools go academy, especially small infants like ours, we lose the head teacher autonomy and end up going down the path of least resistance (which may not be the most economical).

academyblues Wed 30-Nov-11 20:26:21

"and you need an outstanding or to be a failing school to get academy status."

Really? If only it was an transparent as that.

Come to Haringey where the DoF has its eye on 19 schools (out of 56 including faith, so over half the community schools), the great majority of which do not meet that criteria.

GetDownNesbitt Wed 30-Nov-11 20:26:56

When the first lot of academies opened, they started out by excluding lots of kids. Consequently the PRUs struggled to cope - and academies lost no funding by excluding, and weren't paying into the PRU. I know, I was there.

Academy near us is refusing to engage with any LA services. So they can basically do what the hell they want, with only OfSTED and Gove to answer to.

40notTrendy Wed 30-Nov-11 20:34:40

Worries me that I get this feeling it's about a school being a business. And that the responsibility, or checks and balances system, is much more distant. It seems to me that the best interests of our kids is not at the forefront of a push for academy status?

academyblues Wed 30-Nov-11 20:43:42

I agree 40. There will be winner and losers if the principles of the free market apply to education, with powerless children the losers.

admission Wed 30-Nov-11 21:02:51

How many academies (not the original sponsorship academies) but the converter academies have actually changed their admission arrangements? The answer appears to be very few at present, which could be because of the 12 month + lag in being able to change such things or it could be that they simply do not want to make such a decision. Whilst it is easy to say that admission arrangements will change and they will cream of pupils, the honest truth is that all faith schools and all schools that are foundation schools (which combined is well over 50% of all schools) actually have been able to do that for years but have not. The reason is that they are generally tied to an area and do not want to change their intake.

I have to say I cannot say the same about the 300+ sponsored academies , some of which have made major changes to their admission arrangements.

prh47bridge Wed 30-Nov-11 21:26:21

academyblues - As I have pointed out many times previously, the answer is exactly the same for both academies and maintained schools. For most SEN children the school pays for actual SEN provision regardless of whether it is an academy or a maintained school. However, for children needing special tailored provision the LA pays.

choccyp1g Wed 30-Nov-11 21:55:42

prh47bridge.: What I fail to understand, is if it is all the same, as you keep assuring us, why are you the goverment so keen for schools to become academies?

What is the advantage to the goverment?

academyblues Wed 30-Nov-11 22:08:50

So when academies have their budgets stretched to breaking point (as admission explains above) there will indeed be extra incentive for them to 'manage out' SEN pupils as getdown has had experience of.

choc, some advantages to the government is that academies weaken LA control and regulation, erode central and local negotiating power for teachers and effectively allow very dodgy and disreputable parts of the private sector (with no track record in improving schools) to privatise the UK education system.

Like these guys antiacademies.org.uk/2011/11/gove-approves-us-for-profit-charter-companies-to-take-over-schools/

The fact that completely innocent children who have no choice where they live or where they go to school will be the pawns in this very dangerous social experiment (and it's certainly gone tits up in the States) is secondary to the free market ideology of the Tory party (and not a stranger to the Labour party, which were the first to introduce academies though not with the same revolutionary zeal and coertion as the current government).

prh47bridge Wed 30-Nov-11 23:46:19

academyblues - They will have exactly the same incentive to manage out SEN pupils as maintained schools. Both have to fund SEN services out of their budget. That is what happens in Haringey. No school in Haringey receives any additional funding for SEN pupils other than those who need expensive tailored provision, nor does Haringey provide any significant level of central SEN support services - the SEN services it does provide centrally are those it will have to supply to academies free of charge. And, to pick up on your last post, part of the point of what the government is doing is to create a choice. I am not saying they will succeed but that is certainly one of their objectives.

GetDownNesbitt is misinformed. She says academies weren't paying into the PRU. She misunderstands how PRUs are funded. No school pays into a PRU. It is funded by the LA which deducts an element from school funding before passing it on to maintained schools. The LA continues to receive the element of the academy's funding that is for the PRU direct from the government. Also, the effect on funding when a pupil is excluded is identical for both maintained schools and academies. Neither will immediately lose any funding but both will lose funding in the following financial year if they have not been able to replace the pupil.

Having said that, I would agree that there is evidence that academies are more likely to exclude pupils either permanently or for fixed periods than maintained schools. Unfortunately the statistics available, both from this government and the previous government, do not indicate whether academies are better or worse than maintained schools in terms of excluding SEN students. The big unanswered question is why academies have higher exclusion rates. All the academies included in the most recent exclusion statistics converted under the last government and were failing schools at the time they converted. Does the high exclusion rate reflect a need to enforce discipline in these schools? Do the teachers involved believe the school will be better off financially? Or is there some other reason? I am sure you have an opinion on this but, in the absence of serious, unbiased research I am unwilling to draw any conclusions.

choccyp1g - I am not saying it is all the same but the repeated concerns about SEN students are misplaced. There is no reason to believe they will be any worse off, or any better off, than in maintained schools.

The academy programme is certainly not intended to save money. As I understand it the goals are:

- to free schools from LA control so that they are more responsive to parents
- to improve school standards
- to create a genuine choice for parents

I am not offering any opinion as to whether this is the right policy to achieve these goals.

academyblues Thu 01-Dec-11 19:53:53

I'd say that the goals are
- to erode teacher's terms and conditions and collective negotiating power
- to let the private sector run riot aka the States
- to deliberately restrict the 'choice' for some parents

On this last point, if DfE get their way, all the primaries near us will be sponsored academies. My neighbours and I will have no 'choice' of a maintained school.

Regarding increased exclusions in academies, I've got 2 friends who teach in secondary academies and are very clear that it's done to manipulate exam stats.

prh47bridge Thu 01-Dec-11 20:44:43

If those were the goals this is not the right way to go about it.

I'm not going to get into a discussion on teachers' terms and conditions beyond saying there is no evidence that existing academies have in any way undermined these. They need to recruit good staff. They aren't going to do that if they don't pay the rate for the job.

It is a funny sort of privatisation that says academies and free schools cannot be run for profit, that removes the requirement for academies to have an external sponsor, that encourages the new academies to be independent rather than have a sponsor and so on. You clearly are of the school of thought that believes the Conservatives want to privatise everything. I am sure some Conservatives do, just as some in the Labour movement want to nationalise everything. But neither is an accurate characterisation of the respective parties.

I accept that some people may not have the choice of a maintained school but that isn't really the point. Most parents don't care about whether or not the school is controlled by the LA. They care about the education their children receive. And many people already don't have the choice of an LA-controlled school - they are surrounded by faith schools. Gove is more interested in giving people a choice in the way the school operates, the way it delivers the curriculum, the emphasis it puts on different subjects and so on. That is of far more interest to most parents than who controls the school.

Exclusions to manipulate exam results is a common charge and it is certainly possible. However, I would like to see some real research instead of relying on anecdotal evidence. I don't see any reason why an academy would be more prone to manipulating exam results in this way than a maintained school.

academyblues Thu 01-Dec-11 21:28:50

Some research quoted in The Guardian, albeit in 2008 but there's nothing to contradict is since is that in 2006/7 academies made up 0.3% of schools, but accounted for 2% of the temporary exclusions and 3% of the permanent ones. One academy in Sunderland excluded 40 pupils in 2 weeks in September 2008.

I care about who owns and controls my children's school. My 'choice' of schools is severely restricted by the majority of primaries near us being faith schools - I also dislike this, and I don't understand how ensuring that more families have their 'choice' restricted by sponsored academies makes this lack of 'choice' anymore acceptable.

Privatisation occurs when public assets are given to private companies to operate with. Sponsored academies are given public assets to run schools with. This isn't a 'funny sort of privatisation' - it is privatisation.

Yes, I would say that the current government wants to privatise everything. What on earth else are they doing with the NHS and sponsored academies.

I don't my - or other children's - school to be run by a private company with no experience in eduction but with an vested interest in lining their own pockets. (Yes, I know on paper that when CAPITA run schools the school doesn't seem to make a profit, but the services they buy back from themselves certainly rake in the cash).

I'm surprised that this seems unfathomable to you.

admission Thu 01-Dec-11 22:52:55

There have been some lurid tales about exclusion rates in sponsored academies but given that most were failing schools with lousy behaviour, it is no great surprise if the exclusion rate goes up to start with, when a new regime of teaching staff comes in who are prepared to stand no nonsense on behaviour.

I will be siting on an independant appeal panel next week for a community maintained school that has a terrible reputation for getting rid of pupils that they do not want there. So whilst I can't deny that getting rid of pupils does happen, I actually would say it is not the type of school that determines that, it is the attitude of the head teacher.

prh47bridge Fri 02-Dec-11 00:07:53

Sponsored academies are not given any public assets. They lease the premises from the LA.

As far as I am aware Capita does not run any schools.

Your figures on exclusions are out of date. The most recent figures show that 6.1% of secondary schools are academies. The academies were responsible for 11.5% of all exclusions. The figures indicate that Exclusions have been falling in both maintained schools and academies for a number of years. Haringey is one of the few LAs were exclusions are still rising and it has one of the highest exclusion rates in the country.

I have never said that I do not understand your concern over how schools are controlled. It clearly matters to you. I merely pointed out that most parents couldn't care less as long as the school delivers a good education.

CardyMow Fri 02-Dec-11 00:34:36

But the parents want the school to deliver a good education to ALL the dc there - including the SEN ones. Which is why it is such an issue for parents of dc with SEN that don't (quite) qualify for a statement. Which when you consider that in my LA, even dc that are working at a NC level that is 4 years behind what is expected for their age group can't get a statement, is most dc with SEN. Even quite significant SEN.

And the thing that worries me was a simple comment from the HT of my DD's Secondary (that is going through the process of becoming an Academy right now). The comment from the HT was "Well, the Government are determined to get rid of SA and SA+, so only dc with statements of Special Needs will class as having SEN, and needing help to access the curriculum". What does SHE know that we don't? And if this IS true, given my LA's reticence to even ASSESS for a statement - what happens to dc like my DD, who has numerous SN / SEN that prevent her from accessing the curriculum without help?

My DD has asd, she is partially deaf, she has hypermobility syndrome, she has Learning Difficulties (diagnosed as PDD-NOS), she has epilepsy that causes memory problems, she has Auditory processing Disorder, and she also has two leaky heart valves that need replacing by open heart surgery soon.

She does not have a statement, and my LA have refused to assess her 11 times in the 9 years she has been attending FT school. She is on SA+.

Without help to access the curriculum, she would not understand any of the work, and would end up having a meltdown, thus disturbing the class, and giving the school a reason to exclude her. And if the Government change the goalposts and get rid of SA and SA+, then the parents WON'T be able to complain to anyone - not the LA or the SoS. Because their dc won't be classed as having SN / SEN. hmm.

Pretty much what the Government has done to the classification of disability since coming to power...

THIS is why parents of dc with SEN are concerned about the implications of their schools becoming Academies.

academyblues Fri 02-Dec-11 11:32:55

Sponsored academies are given public assets - they are given tax payers money to run schools.

That's interesting about Haringey's exclusion rates. I can only speak for our school but our current head of 7 years has never temporarily or permanently excluded a pupil. Our school does, however, has significantly above national average progress and attendance rates for parts of the community eg travellers, Roma who are let down badly by other schools.

academyblues Fri 02-Dec-11 11:34:01

No, Capita doesn't run any schools at the moment. It's desperately trying to though, so that it can line its own pockets by buying in its own educational software.

admission Fri 02-Dec-11 12:32:16

Huntycat,
I suspect that the headteacher is picking up on the current Green Paper on SEN, which does talk about changing the definitions of SEN.
I know that the DfE has now realised how complicated the SEN situation is and that a simple one size fits all approach is not going to work, so i think that we have to wait to see what next comes out from the DfE before any conclusions are reached.
I would certainly not underestimate the incredibly difficult problem that does exist with pupils such as you illustrate with your daughter's situation. I don't see this as a problem around academies this is a problem around all schools and the LAs ability to fund special needs.

prh47bridge Fri 02-Dec-11 13:56:20

academyblues - By that definition the governing bodies of all schools are given public assets. They are given taxpayers money to run schools. So by your definition all schools have already been privatised. However, putting that to one side as we clearly aren't going to agree...

Exclusion rates in primary schools are generally much lower than secondary schools. Nationally 0.02% of primary pupils were permanently excluded. The rate for fixed period exclusions was 0.91%. In secondary schools these figures rise to 0.15% and 8.59% respectively. Haringey primary schools are above the national average for permanent exclusions on 0.03% but below the national average for fixed period exclusions on 0.75%. For Haringey secondary schools the figures are 0.25% and 9.91% respectively, both above the national average. Haringey is does not have the highest exclusion rate in the country - there is one LA where the fixed period exclusion rate in secondary schools was almost 25% - but it is amongst the highest.

Your final sentence in that paragraph is something I would definitely include if I was putting together a case to defend your school.

academyblues Fri 02-Dec-11 20:23:41

You know as well as I do that the powers of governing bodies are not the same as those of a sponsor. Governors do not make micro decisions about which supplier they use, for example.

On your last paragraph, me too. And the fact that SEN pupils thrive at the school. We have dedicated 'nurture' units for the well above average proportion of SEN pupils (many come from other schools which don't meet their needs).

All this touchy feely inclusivity doesn't do much for our SATS levels, of course, and it's a shame that Gove and his mob can't see past that.

prh47bridge Sat 03-Dec-11 09:13:53

You have clearly never heard of LMS (Local Management of Schools) which was introduced over 20 years ago. The head teacher and governors already make purchasing decisions at most maintained schools. They will have some additional purchasing decisions to make in an academy, of course.

IndigoBell Sat 03-Dec-11 09:21:12

Governors could make micro decisions - but they choose to delegate those decisions to the school.

But govs absolutely can say they're not happy with a supplier, and ask that 3 quotes are obtained to compare.

Are those dedicated nurture units also teaching the pupils with SEN? Kids with SEN have a right to be educated and not just babysat.......

academyblues Sat 03-Dec-11 11:01:35

Yes, IndigoBell, the dedicated 'nurture' units are staffed by teachers who enable the children to make 'good' progress. In terms of levels, above national average progression and it's up to you whether you think that's a reasonable base line or not

My point about governors making micro decisions is what they choose to make decisions about and what suppliers they choose will look a leetle bit different when the governing body is composed of individuals appointed by a sponsor to purchase products supplied by the sponsor, rather than locally/democratically elected parent/community/staff governors as they are now.

Surely the only reason CRAPITA and the like are trying to get hold of schools is to increase their own purchasing power for their own products? Unless you think crap outsourcing firms have some sort of altruistic motive?

academyblues Sat 03-Dec-11 11:05:29

The other explanation is that the 93% of parents who said they that are overall happy with the school at the last inspection are completely deluded and it is a crock of shite.

fightergirl Sat 10-Dec-11 12:00:38

Legal safeguards for children and parents are non existent in Academies and free schools http://www.naht.org.uk/welcome/comment/blogs/warwick-mansells-blog/?blogpost=510

fightergirl Sat 10-Dec-11 12:09:12

The Government's Academies programme is not about providing better education, it is about the dismantling of our state edducation system. It is about privatisation and creating a new market for business and ultimately having schools run for profit. Everybody should be fighting this. It is happening right under our noses on a school by school basis. The children that will suffer the most from this are the ones who won't get schools up the league tables. The 2011 Education act gives Gove more powers to force schools to become Academies and gives him the power to totally bypass the Governing Body and negotiate a contract with a third party (sponsor). More here handsoffourschool.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/wake-up-britain-to-what-is-happening-to-our-schools/ and here davidwolfe.org.uk/wordpress/

academyblues Sat 10-Dec-11 20:06:57

I completely agree with you, fightergirl.

The DFE is meeting with the governing bodies of schools in Haringey at the moment, telling them that they have 3 weeks (over Christmas) to negotiate a deal with a sponsor, or they will disband their democratically elected governing body and replace it with one appointed by a sponsor.

This sponsor may well have no experience in running schools (CAPITA was one mentioned), though they will receive a contract for 125 years which, should it prove unsatisfactory, will take at least 7 years to dissolve.

Our school has launched a campaign and we've made contact with other schools across the country similarly affected. Guess what! Every single one of the targeted schools is in an socially deprived area and has significantly above average FSM etc.

So if you're fortunate enough to live in a naice area with 'good' or 'outstanding' schools, the DFE recommends that stake holders like parents have a 2/3 months consultation period. If you live in a poor area, you get absolutely no say and the governing body that you elected get disbanded.

This is shit. Seriously shit. I'll look up your links and maybe we can link up.

fightergirl Tue 14-Feb-12 22:12:48

Hi academyblues, I've only just come back to this thread and seen your reply - must work out a way to get notifications! I've been following the Haringey schools' battle and have been so saddened by Downhills head teacher's resignation. It is truly shocking and I cannot understand why there is not national outrage at what is happening to school communities across the country.

Rosebud05 Tue 14-Feb-12 23:31:49

I know what you mean, Over 100,000 people have signed the 'Stop the Health Bill' e-petition (and of course this Bill is just as odious) but the privatisation of our education system is at risk of going under the radar.

Although parent campaigns, like the one at Downhills, has raised the profile considerably over the last few months..

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/feb/13/league-tables-academies-maintained-schools?INTCMP=SRCH

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 00:03:16

I too am saddened by the 'resignation' of the H of Downhills, particularly as Ofsted reported that the school was improving in September. I am mighty suspicious about the silence of the outgoing head.

I wrote to the union today about this, among other things. I can't understand why no-one is standing up to shout about all the things that are going on at the moment.

prh47bridge Wed 15-Feb-12 05:10:56

Just for clarity, Downhills was rated inadequate at its full inspection in January last year and placed on Notice to Improve. There was a monitoring inspection in September which found that progress was satisfactory but was still critical of some aspects, particularly some of the teaching. It appears there has been a further monitoring inspection as a result of which the inspectors decided to place the school in special measures. The report of this inspection has not yet been published.

Rosebud05 Wed 15-Feb-12 07:02:40

Any claim that Ofsted may have had to neutrality is discredited by their employment of ARK trustees and the endless re-tinkering with the framework to claim as many schools as possible to be 'failing' and hence 'eligible for intervention'. This means that the DfE can intervene and force them to be handed over to a possibly for profit academy chain.

There weren't any Haringey schools in Special Measure when Gove made his speech last summer; now there are 4. I don't imagine that this is a coincidence.

PromDressDilema Wed 15-Feb-12 07:13:48

Our head told us that although the money is similar, it is one large pot rather than lots of small pots allocatred for different resources (buildings,teachers pay, resources etc)

We had a situation a few years ago where we could pay for some lovely new loos for the school (which we didn't really need-the ones we had were fine) but had to make staff redundant. We would much rather have kept the human resources. Under academy funding this would not happen as heads/ governing bodies can choose what to spend the money on.

Rosebud05 Wed 15-Feb-12 17:06:03

I personally don't have any particular objection to schools converting to academy status if the governors, parents, teachers etc are in favour. Though I do think this model has a lot of potential problems in it that will become evident over time.

I do object to schools being forced to become sponsored academies against the wishes of governors, teachers, parents and the local community. Especially when that sponsor is a Tory donor with no history of running primary schools, a patchy record with secondary schools and a reputation for managing children with SEN out of his schools.

www.haringeyindependent.co.uk/news/9529435.Coleraine_Park__bullied__into_agreeing_academy_plan/?ref=mr

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 17:08:16

So this excerpt from the Section 8 report in September is 'critical in some aspects' prh47? They had clearly been implementing new procedures after the Jan inspection. They'd onluy been given 6 months' teaching time to improve between reports FGS! heaven help us all.

Monitoring of teaching by school leaders, the local authority and inspection evidence indicate that teaching is at least satisfactory and improving. In the lessons observed, some teachers have clearly taken on board the new initiatives introduced by the school. In the most effective practice, the teachers planned outcomes that were challenging for the pupils and they drew high quality responses from them. The teaching was well structured and delivered at a suitably brisk pace. Varied and well-chosen strategies were used. Some incorporated a good range of learning styles that successfully engaged the pupils and enhanced their understanding. The teachers’ expectations were well pitched and modified to meet the pupils’ different needs. The pupils’ learning was regularly evaluated and fostered by the teachers’ good subject knowledge. In the less effective lessons, teachers do not always introduce lesson objectives successfully and these objectives are often couched in jargon which is difficult for pupils to understand. In particular, teachers spend too much time talking, allowing insufficient time for pupils to develop their speaking skills or teachers accept brief responses to their questions and miss opportunities to challenge pupils to think things through for themselves.
Local authority consultants have been working alongside teachers to provide additional support. As a result, teachers are assessing pupils’ work more accurately and setting realistic targets. There are instances when teachers use perceptive questioning to establish what pupils have learned and remembered. However, not all staff make sufficient use of this information to prepare and modify work so that it presents an equal level of challenge for all pupils. As school leaders acknowledge, the most able pupils are not being fully challenged, particularly in writing.
Since the previous inspection, rigorous procedures have been implemented for tracking pupil progress. For example, meetings are held between teachers and school leaders to check on the progress of individual pupils, to inform decisions regarding intervention groups and to address underachievement in specific areas. The development of these clear systems for monitoring pupils’ progress, together with well-focused support to meet the needs of pupils, is beginning to have a positive impact on pupils’ progress. Marking of work is uneven in quality. On occasion, simple praise does not drive progress and work to be corrected is not always followed up. There are, however, examples of good practice, with encouragement linked to clear and practical advice on how to improve.

Rosebud05 Wed 15-Feb-12 17:29:32

5 months to be precise. 4 if you discount the 2 weeks off over Christmas and 1 at half term.

prh47bridge Wed 15-Feb-12 17:50:42

Try these excerpts from the bit you have reproduced:

"In the less effective lessons, teachers do not always introduce lesson objectives successfully and these objectives are often couched in jargon which is difficult for pupils to understand. In particular, teachers spend too much time talking, allowing insufficient time for pupils to develop their speaking skills or teachers accept brief responses to their questions and miss opportunities to challenge pupils to think things through for themselves."

"However, not all staff make sufficient use of this information to prepare and modify work so that it presents an equal level of challenge for all pupils. As school leaders acknowledge, the most able pupils are not being fully challenged, particularly in writing."

"Marking of work is uneven in quality. On occasion, simple praise does not drive progress and work to be corrected is not always followed up."

Those bits are clearly critical. But as I said, that report found that progress overall was satisfactory.

That inspection was around 8 months since they were placed on Notice to Improve. The latest inspection, which has put the school into special measures, is one year after they were placed Notice to Improve. Most schools on Notice to Improve are either sufficiently improved to lose that status or getting close to doing so after one year.

As I have made clear previously, I am not comfortable with schools being forced to convert to academies even if they are failing.

ARK is not a commercial organisation. Its trustees are unpaid. I therefore do not see what they have to gain by undermining the neutrality of Ofsted. I think Rosebud05 is referring to Baroness Sally Morgan, who is an adviser to ARK and chair of Ofsted. She is also on the advisory committee of the Institute for Education, chairs the Future Leaders charity, has been a school governor and has worked as a secondary school teacher. Her experience as a governor and teacher was at ordinary state schools. She is a Labour peer.

The Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, was Director of Education for ARK but has given up that role on joining Ofsted. I personally think it would have been wise if Sally Morgan had ended her involvement with ARK on becoming chair of Ofsted in order to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 18:40:04

I do not accept that those statements are 'critical' as the phrases:
'in the less effective lessons', 'not all staff', 'marking of work is uneven'
imply that these problems are being addressed.

Furthermore, these wishy-washy statements are unquantified and, therefore, futile.

IndigoBell Wed 15-Feb-12 19:12:34

Since the previous inspection, rigorous procedures have been implemented for tracking pupil progress. For example, meetings are held between teachers and school leaders to check on the progress of individual pupils, to inform decisions regarding intervention groups and to address underachievement in specific areas.

That bit of the report is really scary. You mean previously they weren't doing pupil progress meetings!

Every other school in the country is.

Sounds to me like it's a bad school with a charismatic head and a political PTA.

I really can't see any evidence that it's a good school - and it's certainly not a school I'd be happy to send my kids to.

IndigoBell Wed 15-Feb-12 19:17:57

Certainly not all parents are in favour:

Special measures in 2002/03/04/05,and 2010/11/12,but no one talk about that,some people with interest and the promise of a future position as teacher or suply teacher are still fighting in this school ( downhills ),but the reality is that many parent are disagreed with this anti-academie coalition and they gave they own opinion in the ofsted questionnaire,and I'm not supprise by the result(special measures). they continious talking in the name of all parent but we are not agreed with the anti-academie coalition,they say Mickael goves force them to became academie and it's not good but in the meantime they do the same thing by forcing parents to be anti-academie by chasing them inside the school. parent evening with anti-academie stand winter festival no christmas tree but anti-academie stand

I'm fed-up with this energy lost in this battle when the childrens of this school are regressing and are not getting the support expected.

Stop disturbing this childrens and stop making too much,you are incompetent and try to found many excuses for your worthless.

I don't know if academie will be great or not,but one thing is sure, any other governing body and teachers will do much better than this actual one

www.haringeyindependent.co.uk/news/9525489.Downhills_headteacher_resigns_as_school_fails_Ofsted_inspection/

Rosebud05 Wed 15-Feb-12 19:29:46

But I think the point is that many parents are happy to send their children there. Are the over 90% of parents who are happy with the school to be thought stupid.

That extract you've posted is bizarre - reads like someone pretending to have EAL.

prh47bridge Wed 15-Feb-12 20:25:34

I do not accept that those statements are 'critical'

Get real! Those statements are clearly critical. And the phrases you quote certainly do not imply that the problems were being addressed. They merely imply that some of the staff are doing a reasonable job but others are not.

As I said, the report is critical of some aspects, particularly some of the teaching. It does, however, say that at that point the school was making satisfactory progress. It does not do the school (or anyone else) any favours to try and pretend that this report said it was wonderful and was completely uncritical.

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 20:27:09

The fact is, Indigo, that they implemented the progress meetings, etc, as required by the inspectors.

From their section 8 report, it looks as if they were having a pretty good go at turning the place around.

Why hasn't the HT made a statement? It seems like he's been ordered to keep quiet about what's happened. What must he feel like?

IndigoBell Wed 15-Feb-12 20:47:52

If you accept a compromise agreement (which he almost certainly has) you are never allowed to speak about it.

It's part of the legal contract you sign.

It's nothing devious, it's absolutely standard.

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 20:55:04

From 'An Employee's guide to Compromise Agreements:
'Restrictive covenants or post-termination restrictions are often included in compromise agreements to protect the employer from harm to its business. They are only enforceable to the extent that they are necessary to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer.'

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 20:58:19

(Actually Indigo,I can see that they don't want him speaking about what's happened. It's just from looking at the section 8 doc that he and (most of) his staff must have been working their socks off to turn the school around, only for him to be kicked out 3 months later. I would imagine that he feels very bitter.)

Rosebud05 Wed 15-Feb-12 21:02:58

The head resigned, he wasn't kicked out.

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 21:12:26

I guess he resigned because he didn't want the school to be an academy!

I doubt if he felt able to fight any more.

mymar Wed 15-Feb-12 21:19:29

mumblesmum - As I have indicated a couple of times already, there is a new, as yet unpublished, Section 8 inspection report that places the school in special measures. If they were still turning the school round successfully they would not have been placed into special measures. It was that report that prompted the head's resignation. And, as Rosebud05 says, the head did resign. He was not kicked out.

IndigoBell may be right that there is a compromise agreement in place. Employers will sometimes go down that route when an employee resigns if they feel it is necessary to protect themselves. But even without a compromise agreement I am not at all surprised at the lack of a statement from the head. School goes into special measures and the head resigns. It happens all the time. It is rare for the head in such a situation to issue a statement and if they do it is usually something fairly anodyne, wishing the school well for the future.

mumblesmum Wed 15-Feb-12 22:04:53

OK, I can hear you sighing..... I'll look forward to reading it. smile

Rosebud05 Thu 16-Feb-12 17:11:47

It doesn't look like the Save Downhills Campaign are saying that everything is wonderful. They seem to be saying that the school is improving (and its results obviously are) and they want to continue this improvement in a local authority framework.

Given that the alternative might be this:-
www.haringeyindependent.co.uk/news/9529435.Coleraine_Park__bullied__into_agreeing_academy_plan/?ref=mr

... being bullied into agreeing to be handed over to a Tory donor with no experience at primary, a patchy one at secondary and a reputation for managing out children with SEN, I couldn't disagree with their argument, whatever Ofsted say.

mumblesmum Thu 16-Feb-12 18:48:05

shock
I didn't see this on the national news.

Rosebud05 Thu 16-Feb-12 20:09:55

It was in our local paper.

Shocking, isn't it?

prh47bridge Thu 16-Feb-12 22:44:12

I agree the campaign doesn't say that everything is wonderful but I've come across a number of people opposing conversion who want to deny there is anything wrong at this school.

I'm not sure how it is relevant that a Carpetright store was burned down by looters but I suppose it helps to fill the newspaper!

Harris Federation does have one primary school but it only opened in September, so I would say limited experience at primary rather than none (I'll turn pedant mode off now!). Lord Harris of Peckham is indeed a Tory donor. He also gives 20% of his profits to charity and has given substantial donations to LA-controlled schools in south London. He sponsors a number of LA-controlled schools, both primary and secondary. I'm not saying that makes Harris Federation the right people to run this school, just pointing out that he can be presented in a different light.

The most recent figures I have seen suggest that most of the Harris Academies have very low exclusion rates. A common accusation made against academies is that they have high exclusion rates for SEN students. However, LA-controlled schools have similarly high exclusion rates for SEN students. I wish people would get upset about that.

I remain uneasy at schools being forced to convert and am surprised at the governors' assertion that they were forced to choose Harris. I know the schools were given a very tight timetable to work to so I guess it is possible they missed the deadline for choosing a sponsor and hence had one chosen for them. But that is only a guess. If they didn't miss the deadline I can see no good reason for preventing them having a free choice. Unfortunately truth tends to be one of the casualties in this kind of situation. I would not fully trust any statement made by either the DfE or the governors unless there was independent evidence to back it up.

Rosebud05 Fri 17-Feb-12 15:16:54

I've just written a long post and deleted it by mistake, so this will be shorter.

Harris - Newsnight a few weeks ago - several parents speaking out about their children being 'managed out' of Harris academies (given no help then told that they might be better off going to another school or vocational training). Don't show up on formal exclusion figures, of course.

Coleraine Park - what sort of independent evidence would you like?

I know people in this school (it's quite near where I live) and have a good understanding as it what's been going on.

CP was the only Haringey primary not to launch a campaign against being forced to become an academy and whose governors tried to negotiate with the DfE. They met with Harris and wanted to meet with AET (within the ridiculously short dead-line imposed by DfE which ended 10th Feb) and were prevented from doing so by the DfE, and told that they had to have Harris. Harris is sponsoring a free school near CP as from September, so I imagine that's why he's been given the school.

The governors at CP have never issued a press release before. They clearly feel bullied and treated with contempt. Which they have been. They were told that if they went along with Gove they would have some say in who took over their school and that hasn't been the case.

There is nothing benign or respectful about the current forced academy conversions, I'm afraid.

Did you listen to The Report on Radio 4 last night? It highlighted the arbitrary targeting of schools all over the country. There was one head in Birmingham (good Ofsted, above floor target) who was visited by the DfE in September and told she had to convert. She has yet to receive anything at all in writing, including explanation for why her school was chosen. The DfE are conducting this all by e-mail and phone calls. Personally, I think she and her governors were crazy for not getting legal advice from the start, but she did point out how isolated and bullied she felt, so maybe not being able to see the wood for the trees.

No-one from the DfE was available to comment. The programme also cited the LSE research that said that the academy model was far from proven at secondary and results couldn't be reliably transferred to predict success at primary, which is the research that the govt uses to try support its actions.

I hope that the Emperor's New Clothes are gradually being shown up for what they are.

mrz Wed 06-Jun-12 09:46:58
Rosebud05 Wed 06-Jun-12 14:07:28

I know. The great majority of schools that have chosen to convert have done it for the cash bribe, and now even that has turned out to be deceit.

RiversideMum Wed 06-Jun-12 15:22:14

One of the schools where I used to work (large primary) looked carefully at becoming an academy, but couldn't see any advantages. It has a recent outstanding Ofsted report. Instead, they are strengthening the link group assosciated with the feeder secondary school.

The link below was Monday which is timely!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jun/04/academy-status-incentive-cuts

Rosebud05 Wed 06-Jun-12 21:19:23
mrz Thu 07-Jun-12 08:29:25

No I'm across the Pennines although we do work in a similar way to that described in the article you linked.

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