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Academy Conversion Meeting This evening, any an vice very gratefully received.

(58 Posts)
wanttomakeadifference Wed 19-Sep-12 13:42:45

DC's primary school have a consultation meeting this evening regarding converting to an academy.

I've done a bit of research and I personally feel that it would be a bad move for the school to convert.

I've spoken with a parent governor who agrees with me, but she confirmed my suspicions that it's pretty much a 'done deal' as the government are intent in pushing schools to convert.

She also told me that the Head takes little notice of the school's Board of Governors, tends to do what he wants, and that noone stands up to him. I feel this bodes particularly badly for a potential academy- as he will have even more power to make questionable decisions without being answerable to the LEA.

I would love some advice about all this. Is there any point in objecting? I'm worried about causing offence to the Board or The Head by making plain that I think loosing accountability to the LEA will be a bad thing.

prh47bridge Wed 19-Sep-12 17:25:36

The head by and large is not answerable to the LA now. He is answerable to the governors who are accountable for the running of the school. The LA will not in general overrule the governors or the head except in those areas where the LA is accountable, e.g. ensuring that pupils with statements of SEN receive the resources required by their statement (which duty remains with the LA even if the school becomes an academy).

If this is an outstanding school it is being encouraged to convert but it is not being forced to do so. Many outstanding schools have no intention of converting. I would raise your concerns in the form of questions, e.g. "Right now if there is a problem with X and I am unhappy with the school's answer I can go to the LA. What will happen after conversion?".

SecretSquirrels Wed 19-Sep-12 19:06:10

There are different ways to become academies.
If the school is converting as a stand alone then I would have no concerns. From what I have seen as a governor of a secondary school there are many advantages. Different story though if the school is being sponsored or taken over as part of a group.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 19-Sep-12 20:17:30

which is what will happen when the SMTs start to buckle under the pressure - Gove's grant plan : to hand our schools to his cronies

Pixel Wed 19-Sep-12 20:43:27

The consultation evening for dd's school was a farce, it was obvious the decision had already been made. If yours is anything like ours you will probably have to be quite persistent to get any proper answers.

noblegiraffe Wed 19-Sep-12 20:49:06

My outstanding school had 'no intention to convert'. The head said this openly a couple of years ago. We converted last September. The government cut our budget so drastically that we didn't have a choice but to try to claw money from anywhere we could.

prh47bridge Wed 19-Sep-12 22:37:35

TalkinPeace2 - The government's clear preference is that outstanding schools converting to should not have sponsors. So are you saying that all SMTs, head teachers and governors are Gove's cronies?

ProudNeathGirl Wed 19-Sep-12 22:40:52

What is your objection to converting to an Academy? I am a governor of a secondary school which converted about 12 months ago and it's been great for the school, even though it was a lot of work to get there, with an unhelpful LA.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 19-Sep-12 22:42:02

absolutely the opposite
I think he's setting them up to fail so that THEN his cronies can take over.

LEA schools have functioned adequately for years with the admin staff able to call the county at the drop of a hat to suss things out.
I've mentioned previously about things like emergency maintenance
and the elephant of insurance
academies have to buy all these things in
but they are under pressure to save money
so they will not
and Gove has the academic goalposts on a skidpan
so schools WILL get failed on the leadership issue when results start to slip
and the private companies will be there waiting to do the 'special measures' job that used to be done by LEAs

TalkinPeace2 Wed 19-Sep-12 22:42:54

What is your school doing about building and contents insurance?

ProudNeathGirl Wed 19-Sep-12 22:49:51

I don't know- but could find out for you. It's a PFI school, and I think it's all tied up in that. I know that if the building becomes unusable for any reason, the PFI partner has to provide alternative accommodation.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 19-Sep-12 22:52:20

I'll bet the LEA are still paying the security bills on the building that was vacated for the PFI (the deals were signed before the property bubble burst)
Is yours a BSF or sponsored?

prh47bridge Thu 20-Sep-12 00:28:55

Interesting conspiracy theory. Shame it bears no relation to the facts.

VA schools have been responsible for their own insurance and emergency maintenance for donkeys years. So nothing earth shatteringly different there. And academies failing (which will, of course, happen to some) will not allow private companies to take them over. Academies must be run by charities which are, by definition, non-profit making.

gallicgirl Thu 20-Sep-12 00:36:46

Check out Barnfield Academy in Luton. The principal there has just been given a knighthood and wants to run the first profit making academy. It used to be outstanding but it almost failed its last ofsted inspection and the leadership was a big part of that.

I'd want to know if the head will remain, what powers the governers will have, how it will be run financially and what educational and financial experience the managers have.

ravenAK Thu 20-Sep-12 00:39:38

We aren't run by a charity. Successful secondary school.

Converted this September, thanks to a pushy governor or two, & the HT nearing retirement & cashing his chips in. Staff spectacularly misled by scare tactics, & denied a vote when that didn't convincingly sell it to a majority - our vote wasn't allowed to be recorded as part of the 'consultation'.

OP, I'm sorry to say this, but I think you have very little chance of halting it. Local primaries here have converted despite general awareness of 'dirty tricks' campaigns & articulate oposition from parents.

Good luck, though sad.

noblegiraffe Thu 20-Sep-12 07:11:44

BT sponsors a few academies, I'm pretty sure they're not a charity!

ProudNeathGirl Thu 20-Sep-12 09:04:31

Talkin. The old building was sold for housing development, which part funded the build. The PFI was a brand new school.

prh47bridge Thu 20-Sep-12 11:38:26

ravenAK - You may not know that the school is being run by a charity but it definitely is. As part of the conversion process a charity will have been set up and the funding agreement will be between the DfE and that charity. It will be the same people running the school but the legal framework has changed. If you identify the school I will be able to name the charity.

noblegiraffe - BT is a supporting sponsor of two academies in Hastings along with the University of Brighton and East Sussex Council. It does not run these academies. They are run by the Academies Trust, a charity. I am not aware of BT being involved in any other academies but they certainly would not be allowed to run one.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 20-Sep-12 13:52:36

Please find me the Charity for Mountbatten School in Romsey.
And the one for Thornden School in Chandlers Ford
they are Companies limited by Guarantee. That is NOT the same thing as a Charity.

And I'm afraid you are not correct about the Insurance.
See the detailed budget of a VA school here
I used to Audit Hampshire County Council - ALL LEA schools were self insured.

TunaPastaBake Thu 20-Sep-12 14:12:46

Op - why does your primary school want to convert to academy ?

I believe that school going through this process can claim a grant of £25k to help in the conversion process - this helps them (or rather a company basically do a feasibility study to see whether conversion is viable)

Alot more secondary schools convert than primaries -

Have a look here shows what schools have registered their interests in becoming academy. - see who else in your area has applied.

How do the staff feel about it - as academies can set their own pay and conditions of staff.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 20-Sep-12 14:23:53

Charity number 1109288 is the one for Oasis Education : a rather well known Academy Chain.
They are now deemed an "exempt charity" so will no longer be governed by standard Charity rules of transparency. Great.
The same will apply to all of the Academies.
Thank goodness for Companies House records....

TunaPastaBake Thu 20-Sep-12 14:24:28

Secondary tend to go for academy status because they will be better off by far more money , more than a primary would - so would that money out weigh the extra work and responsibility the academy status would bring.

Will you school as an academy change its admission priorities - thus excluding some local communities - i.e creating feeder schools if it is a junior only .

As a primary will it have a partnership with a secondary school academy ?

twoGoldfingerstoGideon Thu 20-Sep-12 14:25:01

The 'consultation' will probably be a sham, as it was in my daughter's school. The head and chief governor had clearly already decided what they wanted and made their contempt for parents' and teachers' views all too clear.

But, OP, yes, you should make your views felt. Why are you concerned about 'offending' people who are happy to play fast and loose with our children's education and ignore the views of the majority of their stakeholders?

More than 700 signatures on a petition against DD's school conversion to academy were ignored (total 867 pupils) . The head wouldn't even come to a meeting to discuss it. Democracy in action.

Rosebud05 Thu 20-Sep-12 16:26:25

Unfortunately OP, your suspicions about it being a 'done deal' are probably correct.

Have a look at barrister David Woolf's blog about 'consultation' -

The DfE spent over £45K on a consultation with the parents and community at Downhills. 97% said no to becoming a sponsored academy. Gove signed the funding agreement anyway.

The legal consequences for other schools are set out in David Woolf's blog.

I would also tend to agree with talking that once 'outstanding' primary schools convert, they will quickly get into trouble as they don't have the capacity to do all the core admin stuff eg insurance that LAs do. And I have no doubt that the academy chains will be sniffing around as soon as they do start struggling.

prh47bridge Thu 20-Sep-12 16:30:47

TalkinPeace2 - Please learn about charities before pontificating. Most charities are constituted as companies limited by guarantee. Oxfam, for example, is company number 00612172. The companies for these schools are charitable companies. That is the organisation required by the DfE and has been ever since academies were first introduced by the last government.

For someone who claims to audit accounts you seem to have surprising trouble reading them. The school budget to which you link shows that their budget share includes £4,454 for insurance - item F(n).

Your assertion that LAs are responsible for insurance of VA school buildings is wrong. Current guidance in the Blue Book is that VA schools should use DFC and/or LCVAP to insure for 100% of any loss.

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