Meeting with potential academy representatives - what should I ask?(22 Posts)
Soon I'll be meeting with representatives from an academy chain which my school is thinking of joining. I've got an opportunity for a one-on-one meeting where I can ask basically what I want, only my mind has gone blank and I can't think what to ask. (Too tired!!)
Any ideas? I'm concerned about how my pay and conditions might change and I don't want to work on a Saturday but that's all a bit simplistic!
Any suggestions gratefully received!
Pay rates? Additional reponsibilities? Requirement to cover other sites in the trust?
Ethos and how this will change expectations for how you work?
Homework, detentions. As in are they super strict "no excuses" etc and is that somewhere you want to work.
Possibly weird, but I'd ask if there were expectations around lesson structure and planning. Lots of academies seem to have very strict rules about e.g. All lessons must have four parts, every lesson must start with LOs on the board, no lesson can have a chunk of more than 15 minutes, etc. Lesson plans must be on this sheet, must be handed in to your HOD a week before, bla bla bla. This would be utterly unbearable for me. No trust, no creativity, no potential for surprise in lessons - screw that.
But maybe I've just had very negative experiences with academy chains!
I'd also want to know about staff retention - that hides a multitude of sins.
I'd ask why they want your school ( if they have indicated they do). What do they see in it that's worth pairing up with you.
Also: what are their views on key stuff like pedagogy, behaviour, and being part of a local community?
How much control over finances? Overall financial health of the MAT? ...
In my experience you can ask what you like. I did. I asked a ton about what would change, ethos, safety of staff, staffing levels, tons.
Meant fuck all. They talked the talked, lied through their teeth and now we are all utterly miserable, looking for other jobs or being capabilitied off.
Check and check again their use of your directed time is my advice. Apparently mine means coming in on my days off. And holidays for boosters.
Check whether they formally adhere to union advice about observations. Check whether they get round this by then having a ton of "informals".
Find a school they've already taken over. Investigate what happened to staff over M4 or over 45. Are they suddenly replete with cheap nqts? Scitt students? Unqualified? Do they have a top heavy slt?
Visit another school in the trust. What are the staff doing at lunch? Are They, like me delivering interventions because they no longer have TA's to do it? Because now lunchtime is a work hour? Check when they can leave. Our earliest leaving time is now 4.45. Bugger our childcare. Our staff briefings start at 8.05. It's expected we will be in by 7.45. My childcare bill is much bigger.
Check that their marking policy isn't insane.
Above all check that they won't swallow your school whole and remove every little thing about it that made it individual and a nice place to work.
Sorry. I'm a bit sad.
Deffinately ask about requirements to work in other bits of the trust.
DH's school have become part of a trust. In theory they can now be multisited i.e mon am one site pm another - transfering in lunch time. Theres a rumour about one of the languages teachers being asked to do this (its a rumour though and you no doubt know what schools are like for this)
Also theres a thing about you can be seconded to another bit of the trust and something that didn't effect us but TLR's are all now short term so you could be transferred at main pay scale without TLR.
Personal development opportunities. Observation opportinities and trainning opportunities can be brilliant in a larger environment like a trust. This is something DH has taken advantage of.
Our trust definitely moves teachers between the schools. Often .
Gosh baby. Reading what you and others have put keeps me fron returning to teaching. I miss it. But not like that.
8.05 until 4.45 as directed time?
I'm in an academy since September and my eyes have been opened as to the horrors of it. Saturday working, holiday booster classes, intervention 2 lunchtimes and 2 nights a week. Regularly used for cover. Do all own copying (no repro person). PPA time works out at 2.4 free periods a week so rounded down to 2 for all staff.
Corporate, 'professional' ethos and sterile atmosphere but scratch the surface and no-one's got a clue. Policies not worth the paper they are written on.
Oh, and the canteen food is shit. Fizzy pop and Mars bars on sale.
Academies are a law unto themselves.
When I worked for an academy chain, we had to work an extra 5 days a year and our core hours were 8am-5pm.
So glad to be back in an LA school with the 1265 rule again!
There's no union representation in our academy. I feel like I'm going against all the things I fought for over the past 13 years of my career eg. Rarely cover, workload assessed, no other meetings in a week with a late night in.
Ask whether they stick to the Burgundy book terms and conditions. Maternity pay if that's important.
When my school became part of a MAT, any teacher that joined after the conversion was hired on a MAT contract and could potentially be sent to teach in other schools. Any that where there before conversion couldn't, unless they were promoted etc and got a new contract.
But my MAT seems relatively sane. Others are awful to work for, get rid of anyone on UPS immediately etc. Ask people who work for them.
Wow, thank you everyone! There's lots to think about and ask here. Sadly a lot of what you've said doesn't make the prospect of becoming an academy very appealing. What have this government done to our schools?!
It's awful I wish i could pay for mine to go private now.
But as I no longer have a job as I'm not returning to teaching that won't happen either!!
Your can always ask your union rep too. But quetions about pay and conditions are generallly good. Perhaps, why there's usually such an exodus of staff when schools become academies. Also, will classes and any groups of children always be taught by fully qualified teachers. A lot of schools are using non-qualified staff to teach groups and classes which is quite shocking. Children deserve better. What assurances can be given that promotion or positions in the school are fairly advertised and new appointments are fair - I know a school where the Heads friends hold senior positions -some not even qualified.
Perhaps its near enough time for this all to be brought to the attention of the press and local MP's. These academys are atrocious. There's no transparency, little accountability etc. plus they are getting tax payers money ! We should be able to see what leadership is earning - we know what the PM gets for instance.
When I get out of this place at Christmas, I'm def going to make that my mission rysan.
I think lots of shit will hit the fan in 3-5 years when it comes to academies. Too late for the kids who suffered under them though.
I’ve moved back to a LA school from an academy because I faced similar conditions as others. Had to be at school at 745 for staff briefing. Couldn’t leave until 430. Required to do 5 days in the holidays and many other things including weekly observations. I am intending to “do” something about it but not sure what yet
Lots of shit is already hitting the fan about academies but it seems to be financial irregularities and lack of sponsors (or sponsors just giving up on their schools) that are the headlines rather than the crap conditions. Someone, somewhere at some point has to properly look at teacher retention.
7.45 though, really?
My DD's breakfast club only opens at 7.45 so I breeze in at 8.15-8.20 as probably the last one in but I don't care. I'm not a martyr.
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