Presentation on theme: "Academies: to be or not to be? J Devlin, Feb 2012."— Presentation transcript:
Academies: to be or not to be? J Devlin, Feb 2012
Reduction in funding has led to significant re- structure and a traded services model SIP role to be outsourced from Sept 2011 Many ex-SIPs will be in the market for work Headteacher PM must still involve an external expert Retained responsibility for: Champion for Parents and Families Supporting Vulnerable Children Champions for Educational Excellence General duties under 1996 and 2006 Acts Schools Causing Concern - Intervention CHANGES FOR L0CAL AUTHORITIES
“We believe that governing bodies should be the key strategic body in schools, responsible for the overall direction that a school takes. In that respect, governors are also therefore the key body for school improvement.’ Lord Hill, 2011 Don’t leave it to the head or the DfE! WHOSE DECISION?
STRATEGIC OPTIONS 1.Do nothing 2.Collaboration 3.Independent academy 4.Academy Chain
DO NOTHING ProsCons LA provide contingency / fall- back service if required LA has less money centrally as schools opt out LA focus is on less well performing schools Cost doesn’t equate to VFM in terms of level of LA support delivered Inability to ‘shape’ the landscape Underperformance will mean being forced to become an Academy
COLLABORATION ProsCons Defined areas for collaboration Collaborating schools can obtain some economies of scale Not legally binding; each school will retain its own separate registration and category (e.g. community) No control over budget Lengthy negotiations to reach agreement Additional meeting time commitment No formal agreements/contracts & variable levels of commitment Informal partnerships with other local schools to share selected curriculum provision and resources
INDEPENDENT ACADEMY ProsCons Autonomy in driving school improvement agenda Ability to expand mix of partnership arrangements to achieve economies of scale on own terms Sharing best practice, staff & leadership development opportunities through supporting a less well performing school Full receipt of income i.e. no LA top slice Increased VFM via procurement of bespoke services input of external expertise provides additional controls & oversight Increased governing body accountabilities Increased statutory requirements & costs e.g. accounting Need to fulfil all employer liabilities Funding agreement commitment = 7 years Some uncharted territory Isolation? DfE as boss? Conversion to academy status as a single school
5. ACADEMY CHAIN ProsCons Broader range of opportunities and benefits for students and staff Fit for future governance arrangements utilising best mix of skills, knowledge & experience Cohesive strategic leadership through shared structures Increased flexibility & operational efficiencies - less duplication of effort Increased VFM & buying power greater economies of scale Some loss of autonomy through shared accountabilities Short term increase in costs before evidencing longer term benefits Becoming a mini-LA without large economies of scale Isolation from rest of system? Multiple schools converting to academy status under one Trust Pros & cons as per previous slide AND :
“outstanding” and ‘good with outstanding features’ schools other schools need to apply in partnership with an existing academy or join an existing academy trust with a proven record of school improvement in order to apply for academy status from 1 January 2011, special schools became eligible to apply for academy status Underperforming primary schools will be forced to become Academies Free schools are Academies WHO CAN BECOME AN ACADEMY?
“Evidence shows that the academy programme has had a good effect on school standards” Michael Gove 16 June 2011 National Audit Office report (NAO, 2010): most (sponsored) academies are achieving increases in academic attainment for their pupils compared with their predecessor schools Although still below the national average, the proportion of their pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent is improving at a faster rate than maintained schools with similar intakes a small number of (sponsored) academies have made little progress, particularly when English and mathematics are taken into account DOES ACADEMY STATUS AUTOMATICALLY LEAD TO IMPROVEMENT?
Since converting to academy status and experiencing reduced involvement of the LA, governors are expected to take on more responsibility (eg, for buildings and other assets) One governor explained this as “the buck now stops with us” Need for additional training, in particular relating to the new responsibilities and accountabilities that academy status brings “The governing body is now running a small organisation. The school took advice on risks which are perceived to be different, but not more serious.” (Academy senior leader) GOVERNANCE
Sponsored Challenging staff to raise standards Refining ethos, vision, values Revising policies for consistency Realigning leadership structures Engaging with parents and community TUPE of staff Converting Managing stakeholders, especially if they disagree Volume of admin and paperwork Burden on leaders, especially bursar – against the clock CONVERSION CHALLENGES
Durand academy in Lambeth: supported through conversion by "a communications agency and property and TUPE [specialist employment] lawyers" Lampton academy in Hounslow: schools are given £25,000 to effect the conversion: fortunate to have a governor whose hard work cut down their legal fees: a colleague in Brent without any expertise received a bill from the same firm of solicitors that Lampton used for less than £10,000 Too much of a meal can be made of the difficulty of the paperwork involved, insists Jim McAtear, head of Hartismere school in Suffolk. He scrutinised the legal requirements carefully beforehand and decided a DIY approach was perfectly viable. "The way the DfE has set up the process actually strengthens the infrastructure of those schools," he says. "The difficulties entailed are largely illusory.“ Guardian 30 May 2011 EXPENSIVE LEGAL SUPPORT?
The money the schools have pulled back – between 8% and 14% of their total budget – and what it would allow them to do is the central reason all these heads cite for choosing academy status The Premier Academy in Milton Keynes has £330,000 more: "We probably don't get things cheaper, but we can move faster…The enhanced funding allows us to purchase services that give best value for money, including those provided by the LA, but we will not be constrained by having one provider who has a monopoly on a service irrespective of quality or cost. It's this type of freedom that has made the conversion to academy status incredibly worthwhile“ How to become an academy: Guardian Monday 30 May 2011 WHY HAVE SCHOOLS CONVERTED?
The “new freedoms” are not new at all and pose problems: Freedom from LA control – LMS was established in 1988 Set your own pay and conditions – but virtually no Academies have done it – risks disruption and inflation Freedom from National Curriculum – NC is under review to reduce prescription Change length of school day and terms – you can already change day lengths. Changing term dates likely to cause local difficulties, esp for parents of children at different schools REASONS FOR NOT CHANGING
Learn from the past GM status – some leapt at it, got most of the money; others pressurised to follow (domino effect), got less; most chose not to; new government reversed policy Moral issue If many become Academies, what happens to all the other schools? Less money Reduced services Two-tier system OTHER REASONS
Very little research on converting academies No solid evidence that they raise educational standards Nobody knows everything Politically-driven? Head-driven? Locked in for 7 years Insecure future funding and costs of services Lack of open accountability Accidents waiting to happen: indemnity insurance UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS
Where are you now in consideration of Academy status? What appeals to you about Academy status? What puts you off? What questions remain unanswered? SOME QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
Pros are 1.More autonomy??? 2.More freedom re. curriculum and less interference. 3.Greater Catholic identity and stronger partnerships Cons are 1.Less autonomy due to MAT??? 2.Distraction caused by conversion MY FEELINGS
Ultimately, I suppose the question to be answered is : Do the governors of Our Lady of Victories agree in principle to pursue conversion to an academy as part of the multi-academy trust? If the answer is yes, we have to consult with stakeholders and share this decision with our partner schools. If no, then we carry on as normal. If we agree in principle then the next steps would be taken as a group of schools at the partnership level. I've done a lot of thinking about the issue and in many ways I can see the benefits of not converting as it is working at the moment. And there is a worry that the process of conversion will distract us from our core purpose (there will be quite a bit of work to do.) However, I don't see that we have a choice. The government has made its feelings clear, so has the diocese. There will be nothing left of the LEA very soon. I believe the time to go is now as dragging it on for 2 or 3 years will distract us from what we do best - providing the best catholic education we can for the children. MY FEELINGS