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Can someone please talk to me about Academies

(15 Posts)
WhatTheActualFugg Wed 27-Apr-16 21:34:54

I'm currently stressing about trying to find a house to move to and wondering whether it's worth considering our senior school options for 6-8 years time.

Basically there is a very good high school locally that we could move near to. But is this pointless if the Government continue with their plans to turn every state school in to an Academy?

Of course I realise that in 6 years time, Academy or otherwise, anything to happen to change a school. But do these plans mean there's no chance of a school staying the same?

I have no idea what it means for a school to be an Academy. Are they then effectively in private ownership? Without being independent.

Could someone please do me a dummy explanation of how this works?

TaIkinPeace Wed 27-Apr-16 21:59:37

An academy is a normal school with no proper oversight or accountability.
More than half of secondaries are already academies

PatriciaHolm Wed 27-Apr-16 23:27:42

An academy, at it's most basic level, is a state funded school that takes its funding direct from the Government, rather than the monies filtering through the local authority. They have a number of freedoms that ordinary maintained schools do not; for example over admissions policies (though they must adhere to the admissions code), pay, and length of school day/term dates. They are also not bound by the national curriculum (NC) but they need to follow a "broad and balanced" curriculum, and national exams will still be based on the NC.

Historically, the idea was that poorly performing schools would be taken under the wing of sponsors and run within a wider academy trust. In some cases, this has led to private providers taking on large chains of schools, sometimes both primary and secondary. Academy trusts cannot be run for profit. (However, they are allowed to purchase from their own for-profit companies).

Now, the government have announced that all schools need to either be an academy or have committed to be one by 2022. Many secondaries have changed over already - about 60% are nationally, with the percentage higher in some counties. It is possible for schools to create their own academy chains without sponsors; this means usually going with a few other schools into what is known as a MAT (multi academy trust) and working together. They are not in the ownership of any new external third party; they create their own umbrella leadership essentially. The academy trust is a charitable body.

Academies are still inspected by OFSTED; accounts need to be externally audited and are submitted to the Charities Commission, the Companies registrar and the Education Funding Agency also checks accounts and monitors the amount of in-house purchasing. Eight regional schools commissioners will also be in charge of academies in their region.

bojorojo Wed 27-Apr-16 23:30:44

Where I live, every single senior school is an academy. Most were converters and some were forced. Some are outstanding and some are still useless. Go by the quality of school, not who runs it. We even have the odd RI C of E academy here!

WhatTheActualFugg Wed 27-Apr-16 23:43:29

Patricia, that was brilliantly helpful. Thank you.

So basically, this school could end up running along as they are now in charge of themselves.

Or, the big local academy trust of dubious intent could snaffle them up and crush them in to submission.

Maybe I should just stop worrying about the future.

PatriciaHolm Wed 27-Apr-16 23:50:20

No problem.

And, well, yes yes and yes really ;-)

A good, well run school should have a governing body capable of making sure whatever academy format it goes for, it retains it's own character and ethos; something that can be hard if a school joins a large existing MAT. But it is impossible to tell at an individual school level how acadamisation will affect them.

bojorojo Thu 28-Apr-16 00:28:44

The schools that were converters all retained their uniqueness but they have strong heads and governors. The ones who have weak heads and governors became RI, academy chain or not. Local high quality management still counts for a lot!

t4gnut Thu 28-Apr-16 08:57:03

Reality is it makes no real difference - many schools were happy to be free of the local authority (known hotbeds of overstaffing and mediocrity). Many are still learning how to run themselves efficiently.

WhatTheActualFugg Thu 28-Apr-16 09:40:58

So buying a house near to a desirable school is not rendered entirely pointless by the Academy plans?

WhatTheActualFugg Thu 28-Apr-16 09:46:44

Can a school become an academy on its own back? Without the need to form a chain with other school?

t4gnut Thu 28-Apr-16 10:39:12

Yes - ish.

Schools converting previous in their set up documents/legal process could do so as an Academy Trust or Multi Academy Trust. Government now is getting all to establish as a Multi Academy Trust even if they're just one school. So they can set up singly, or join a large chain, or group with a set of local schools.

Most people can't tell if their school is an academy or not, however I wouldn't buy a house for 6 years ahead based on what the school is like now. A lot can change in 6 years.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 28-Apr-16 12:55:23

Some local authorities are opposing the Government's diktat. 15% of primary schools have converted.

MATs mean that all the head teachers of the schools in the MAT are responsible for the children in all of the MAT schools- good or bad.

The governing bodies of MATs will not necessarily have parent representatives on them.

I would buy a house in an area that you would like to live in and a house that suits the needs of your family. In six or eight years time, the landscape, political and academic may be very different.

WhatTheActualFugg Thu 28-Apr-16 14:15:12

In six or eight years time, the landscape, political and academic may be very different.

Let's hope so Foxy.

What1984 Sun 01-May-16 22:49:19

Interesting blog post here

prh47bridge Mon 02-May-16 10:29:44

MATs mean that all the head teachers of the schools in the MAT are responsible for the children in all of the MAT schools- good or bad

Not sure what you mean by that.

The governing bodies of MATs will not necessarily have parent representatives on them.

As things stand today either each local governing body must have at least 2 parent representatives or the MAT must have 2 parent trustees.

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