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School joining an an academy group - should parents be worried?

(6 Posts)
toomanyeasterbunnies Tue 11-Mar-14 09:48:53

Firstly, I know nothing of Academy schools and have the view (probably very mistakenly) that failing schools tend to convert to academies?

Anyway, our school wants to get "Outstanding" in its Ofsted report. As a result, the school wants to join an Academy Group but is obviously getting the opinion of the parents first. They have sent a letter home emphasizing all the positives. But I can't help but be a bit worried. The other schools in the Academy group were the worst schools in the area (although I believe they are now turning themselves around).

Does anyone have experience of Academy schools? Is it a good thing? What are the downsides? I'd really appreciate your thoughts so I can make an informed decision.

TIA

prh47bridge Tue 11-Mar-14 10:24:41

Do they want to join an academy group or simply convert to academy status? If they are rated outstanding they can convert without becoming part of any group.

Failing schools are generally forced to become academies with external sponsors. It is therefore quite normal for the worst schools in the area to become academies. This is because the government, like the last government, believes conversion to academy status is a good way to improve a failing school.

The current government has given all outstanding schools the option to become academies. Unlike a failing school, these schools don't have to find an external sponsor to convert. A school that is outstanding is unlikely to become rubbish overnight just because it has become an academy.

Over half of all secondary schools are now academies. It means they receive their funding direct from the government. They receive fewer services from the LA but receive additional funding to compensate. They have more freedom over curriculum, admissions policy and teachers' pay than community schools.

Controversially they also have more freedom to use non-qualified teachers. This isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds. Someone with extensive teaching experience in another country would be a non-qualified teacher in the UK until they gain the necessary UK qualification. Equally someone with the right subject qualifications and extensive experience teaching in UK independent schools would be non-qualified unless they gained a specific teaching qualification.

toomanyeasterbunnies Tue 11-Mar-14 10:51:20

Thank you bridge. The school currently has a "good" ofsted rating but the Head believes in order to become outstanding it needs to join an Academy group. The Head believes that the LEA concentrates on the schools that are not yet good so that in order for our school to get outstanding it needs to join a group and in order to have more freedom. It all sounds good but I do worry that the other schools in this group were poor schools. The Head wants all the parents to vote but I know that ultimately the decision is down to the board of governors. As I have a child who has some additional needs I am a bit worried whether she will continue to get the support she needs. This is also a primary school if that makes any difference.

ReallyTired Tue 11-Mar-14 10:54:21

A lot depends on which academy group your school joins. Some academy groups are better than others. Prehaps your head is hoping that by volunarily joining an academy group he will get the best deal for your school.

HolidayCriminal Tue 11-Mar-14 10:56:30

Is there a way for OP to directly ask questions of the governors or HT about meeting the needs of her specific child? I think this might be best way forward.

TalkinPeace Tue 11-Mar-14 20:45:59

it depends on the Academy group
but personally I'd be concerned

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