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Have you any experiences to share about your DC's secondary school actively resisting academy conversion following an OFSTED report which placed the school in "Special Measures"? If so, I'd love to hear what happened and what the outcome was.
My DC's school is doing just this at present. However, the Head and Governors have not officially communicated any of this to the parents and as a result, parents are understandably angy and concerned in equal measure about being kept in the dark. The Head has not sent a letter out to parents communicating any of this as yet but an interview with the head in an online newspaper states that management and governors of the school have taken the decision to reject academy status.
All we know at present is that the LEA has not seen fit to remove the Head and the Governors and seems to be sticking with them for now. We also know that one of the DfE's Academy Sponsor Brokers has made one visit to the school and is expected to visit again within the next few weeks. As far as I understand it, the Academy Sponsor Brokers are sent in to try and bully the schools into converting.
So what happens next?
Many parents have an awful lot to say about this, and have lots of concerns too. In addition, they want to have the chance to put forward their ideas regarding what they'd like to see change at the school. However, nothing is forthcoming from the school, which has sent nothing formal out to parents since a copy of the OFSTED report was sent home with a covering letter from the Head and the report was posted on the school website. Patience is understandably starting to wear a bit thin with the non communication. Even children are now starting to quesiton staff openly about this at school and are being fobbed off with the line "don't worry, nothing is going to change".
So, what happened in your DC's school? What can we expect to happen now? Was your school successful in resisting the switch?
Nothing is going to change are the words of a school who are living in a dream world. The bottom line here is that a school that is in special measures, will be forced one way or another into becoming a sponsored academy. The Secretary of State for education has the legal right to carry this out and has in the past. The head teacher and governors are simply not thinking properly, they are trying to hold back what is a juggernaut and they are going to get run over in the not too distant future. The only question in my mind is whether the head and GB are allowed to undertake an orderly shift to academy status or whether the first step will be the removal of the governing body and probably the head. If you are fed up as a parents maybe the best thing you can do is all complain about the lack of information and progress to both the LA and to Mr Gove, in the hope that speed up things moving to the inevitable conclusion.
Thanks admission. I must say that it was my feeling too that the Head and GB are trying to hold back the tide and that it is bound to happen, no matter what they do or say. The GB seem simply to be puppets anyway and the Head runs the show.
Another question - who do the Head and GB expect would foot the bill for any legal challenge that might be mounted to resist this? Surely the LEA would need to back any action they took too?
Any legal challenge will have to come from the schools budget and a question that needs to be asked is whether such a challenge could be considered frivolous. If so there is a possibility that the governing body could be considered liable for the cost.
I think the Head is under the impression that a plan of action is in place which should be sufficient for the DfE to leave the status quo in place to turn things around without intervention from an Academy Sponsor. The seems to me to be the basis on which forced academy conversion is being rejected/resisted.
We are aware that following the outcome of the OFSTED report, the school is now subject to a strict regime of regular inspections from HMI over the next 18 months or so. Am I right in assuming that the current Head, SMT and Governors could potentially be left alone to sort things out themselves if they can make out a suitable case to the DfE to demonstrate that some progress has already been made and further steps are being taken (such as bringing in consultants such as a retired Head from a local outstanding school and a former OFSTED inspector) to bring about the required level of improvement?
Is it still futile do you think?
Another question: what role would the LEA take in all of the above, given that the school remains under the jurisdiction of the LEA, for the time being at least?
We know that the DfE's Acdemy Sponsor Broker visited the school again this week and will surely have to report any reistance to their superiors so perhaps that will ramp the pressure up a bit.
I'm not suggesting for a moment that switching to academy status is some sort of panacea but I really do think that the parents should be offered the opportuntity to discuss this with the Head, SMT and Governors in an open forum.
To quote from government guidance, "There is a clear expectation that in these cases, where the school has been judged by Ofsted to have serious weaknesses or require special measures, conversion to an Academy with a strong sponsor will be the normal route to secure improvement." So yes, I think resistance is likely to be futile.
The LA can:
- require the governors to make arrangements with others with a view to improving the school. "Others" in this context can be the governing body of another school, for example.
- appoint additional governors
- apply to the Secretary of State for permission to appoint an Interim Executive Board (IEB) to replace the governors
- suspend the governors' right to manage the school's budget
So, if the LEA can require the governors to make arrangements with others with a view to improving the school perhaps the fact that the Head is currently paying consultants (such as a retired Head from a local outstanding school and a former OFSTED inspector) to help bring about the required level of improvement might mean the LEA will be happy to leave the school alone for a while?
I suppose my next question is how much pressure will the DfE bring to bear on the LEA - or will the LEA effectively be cut out of the equation?
I can't help but wonder what is the view/role of the DfE's Academy Sponsor Broker who has already visited the school a couple of times already...?
Also wondering about timescales for all of this now...