We are writing to you to inform you that following agreement by the Governors our school is now entering a formal consultation period from the 9th January to the 10th February 2017. We are consulting about converting to academy status and forming a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) with the intention of other schools joining in the near future.
We would like to invite families of children at our school and other members of the community to come and meet with school staff and Governors to discuss the proposal on Tuesday 24th January 2017 at 6.15pm in the school hall. There is a reply slip at the end of this letter which we would be grateful if you could complete and return by Friday 20th January as this will ensure we have the appropriate catering in place.
You can also express your views in writing marked 'Academy Conversion' to the following email address - email@example.com
Following this period of consultation, the governing body will decide whether or not to convert. This decision will be taken in the interest of the children and you will be informed of the outcome as soon as possible.
At all times we need to ensure that we are focused on maintaining and delivering teaching and learning opportunities of the highest standard to our pupils. Education in this country is changing at great pace and we need to ensure that we are in the best possible position for our pupils.
The following section may answer some initial questions you have about academies:
What are Academies?
Academies are publicly funded schools which are not controlled by the Local Authority and therefore have additional independence in a number of important areas. This greater independence brings increased responsibilities and opportunities to build upon our current success and support us as we continue to improve our services to families in our local community. You can view further details on academies at the Department for Education website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/academies-and-free-schools
What is a Multi-Academy Trust?
A Multi-Academy Trust is where two or more schools have converted to academy status together. A single academy board (a company limited by guarantee) is formed to provide the strategic leadership and oversight of each school in the Trust. Each school will retain its Local Governing Body which will operate in much the same way as it does at present.
Why convert to Academy status?
There is a clear national agenda for schools to become academies and the government is encouraging all schools to convert. We want to ensure that as a school we retain control over the process and create a successful, high performing academy group.
What might change?
Accountability would be direct to the Department of Education rather than the Local Authority. There would be some additional financial performance management reporting to satisfy the requirements of Companies House and the Charities Commission as school funding would come direct from the Education Funding Agency. These changes will be managed centrally within the Trust and not by individual schools.
What would stay the same?
Essentially, children, parents/carers and staff will not notice any changes. The day to day running of the school will continue in the same way with the same school day etc. Our school will keep its own ethos, aims, values and the creativity will not change.
Who will be responsible for running our school?
The Trust will have a Board of Directors including individuals from the Local Governing Bodies of each school. The Trust Board will delegate many powers to a Local Governing Body (LGB), which will have a role similar to that of the current School Governing Body.
What is involved in becoming an Academy?
The Governing Body has voted for this proposal in principle. An application will go to the DFE and the Secretary of State for Education would need to approve our application and issue an Academy Order which allows the school to convert if the Governors so decide in due course. The school must complete a consultation with parents, pupils, staff and the wider community which the Governors will take into account in reaching its decision. We are holding an open consultation session at Hampton Hargate Primary School on Tuesday 24th January at 6.15pm.
We would expect to become an Academy within our Multi-Academy Trust on 1st September 2017, if the final decision to convert is made by the Governing Body.
Would the school have to change its name?
There is no obligation for a school to change its name.
How are the children affected?
In many ways the children will not notice any difference; they will be in the same classrooms with the same teaching staff. We will continue to strive for an outstanding education for all our children. In time the children may notice changes and improvements in the way that they learn, resulting from the greater training opportunities given to teaching staff to innovate and improve the pupils’ learning.
Will we get more money as an Academy?
Academies receive the same amount of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the Local Authority as a maintained school. They also receive additional funding in the form of the Education Services Grant to cover the services that are no longer provided for them by Peterborough City Council and to cover the costs of Academy status. All funding comes direct from Government to the Multi Academy Trust which, through individual school participation on the Board of Directors, then controls the overall budget. Each school does not necessarily have more money, but as a group the schools are better able to control that part of the budget currently "top sliced" by the Local Authority.
What are the risks of becoming an Academy?
The change to Academy status means it is no longer a Local Authority school, but does not exclude the school from Local Authority support. For example, Academies can continue to receive finance, HR, behavioural support and other services from the Local Authority and where these represent ‘best value’ the MAT would use these services. Where the MAT feels that others can provide better services or better value the change to Academy increases the freedom to make these changes.
There are risks associated with not changing to Academy status. At some stage in the future, any school might be influenced to become part of a broader Academy Chain. We believe that the ability to create a local MAT, under local direction, offers the best opportunity to sustain vibrant, successful local schools.
How will admissions to the school be affected?
The school will become its own admissions authority but will be required to adopt clear and fair admission arrangements in line with the admissions law and the School Admissions Code. The Local Authority will continue to have responsibility for making sure there are sufficient places locally and will coordinate the admissions process for all schools. This means parents will still only have to complete one application per child.
Will our responsibilities in relation to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and exclusions change?
No. Responsibilities as an Academy in relation to SEND and exclusions will be just the same as they are now.
Can a child with a statement nominate an Academy as his or her school of choice?
Yes. Schools converting to Academy status can retain the admissions criteria they currently use. These arrangements and related processes must at all times comply with the School Admissions Code.
What happens next?
We are now entering a period of consultation and during this period we will be consulting with parents, carers, staff, the Local Authority and the local community.
This is another new and exciting time as we look to the future of our school and we welcome your continued support and engagement.
Mr Andy Lyons Mrs Carolyne Hunt
Headteacher Chair of governors
Reply Slip – Please return to the school office by Friday 20th January 2017
I/We will be attending the meeting at school on Tuesday 24th January. Number of attendees:______
Child’s Name:_____________________________________ Child’s Class: __________