school becoming an academy - pros and cons please

(8 Posts)
jelly10 Tue 05-Jan-16 14:22:45

Our primary school is consulting on whether to become an academy. I don't have much knowledge of what this means other than more control for the school over funding and curriculum - so I'd like to be better informed before I respond to the consultation request. Any views/experience? Thanks smile

admission Tue 05-Jan-16 16:15:53

The fact that the school is consulting on becoming an academy means to me that the school is a good or better school and is thus becoming a converter academy.
The situation is that now all such conversions tend to be as a MAT (multi academy trust) which is what is says a number of schools getting together being ultimately run by one single set of people (the Trust). So my first question would be, is it as a MAT and if not why not? The second question is then obviously if it is a MAT what other schools are involved and how is it being structured to ensure that your school gets a fair say in what goes on in the future. The reality is that you will not in future be able to stay as a single academy school so establishing what is the future direction of the school is really important.
In all honesty practically everything that the school says about having more control over the curriculum is something that they can do now if they want to as a maintained school. Funding of an academy uses the same funding formula as any other maintained school or than funding that is kept by the LA to carry out things for all schools, is give directly to academies and they can then decide how much they want to spend on different areas of expenditure.

nlondondad Tue 05-Jan-16 18:27:06

I agree that the distinction between Stand alone and MAT is crucial.

If you join an MAT then the Governance of the school passes to the MAT Trust Board. Your Governing Body will change into being a "local Governing Body with the following characteristics.

1.Only two elected parent governors

2. A majority of the Governing Body appointed by the Trust Board

3. The Chair of the Governing Body appointed by the Trust Board.

4. The Local Governing Body will no longer set the school budget or appoint the Head - The MAT Board does that.

If you are becoming a stand alone Academy then the Trust Board and your Governing Body usually, in effect merge. In which case the crucual question is how is the Trust to be constituted?

jelly10 Tue 05-Jan-16 18:44:20

Thanks for your replies. The letter says they plan to be the first school in a trust, with other schools joining in the future. Would that mean 2 parent governors for each school in the trust, or only 2 in total across all the schools? (which doesn't sound like enough to me!)
Would our current governors continue as the governors of the trust? Sounds like the main benefit to the school is a bit more funding direct to the school rather than the lea?
Sorry for all the questions - and thanks again for your replies.

prh47bridge Tue 05-Jan-16 23:32:15

In a multi-academy trust each school must have a local governing body in addition to the trust's board. Parents can be represented at either level. I believe I am correct in saying that most MATs currently in existence have at least two parent governors per school but I haven't checked that in detail.

There will probably be some changes to the governing body at the time of conversion - a reduction in the number of LA representatives, for example. It is also possible that some governors will take the opportunity to step down. But in the situation you describe I would expect most of the existing governors to continue as governors after conversion.

I have to disagree with nlondondad's statements about local governing bodies. In detail:

- The requirement is for a minimum of two parent governors. Many academies have more.

- The Trust Board will not necessarily appoint the majority of the local governing body. Some do, some don't.

- Similarly the Trust Board will not necessarily appoint the Chair. Some do, some leave that to the local governing body.

- The local governing body may still set the school budget and appoint the head. Some MATs delegate one or both of these powers to local governing bodies, some don't.

So it may be as he describes but it may not. The only way to find out is to ask the school about its plans.

In addition to getting some funding which would otherwise go to the LA, an academy has more freedom to set teacher salaries and can set its own admission policies (provided they comply with the Admissions Code). Also an academy does not have to follow the National Curriculum although most don't stray too far from it.

admission Wed 06-Jan-16 00:04:36

The fact that they are talking about being the first school in a Mat says to me that they are planning on taking on a school in serious trouble in the not to distant future. If they were looking to go with another good or better school then they would be having that conversation now with the other school and it would be in the consultation document.
As there seems so little detail, I would be very wary as to whether this school has thought through what they are planning in sufficient detail or has realised the changes that it needs to be able to plan in to its future ideas.

Industrialhelicopter Wed 06-Jan-16 23:00:31

You can no longer be a stand alone new primary academy- you have to be part of a MAT.

prh47bridge Wed 06-Jan-16 23:40:59

You can no longer be a stand alone new primary academy

I don't know where you get that from. According to official guidance any school can become a stand alone academy provided:

- it is rated "outstanding" or "good with outstanding features"
- attainment and progress is above the national average
- the school's finances are healthy

Any school converting as a stand alone academy is expected to support at least one other local school but that does not necessarily involve setting up an MAT with that school.

If I've missed something please provide a link.

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