Academy Consultation

Monday 12th June, 2017

Dear Parent / Carer,

Conversion to Academy Status Consultation

For several years now, the Governors of Layfield Primary School have been considering the school’s position regarding academy status very carefully. The context of academy conversion is now very much different than it was in the early days and it is in this new era of positive academisation that the Governors have resolved to explore what Academy status might mean for Layfield Primary School.

In light of this, we have been holding discussions with two other local primary schools (Kirklevington and Levendale) and one secondary school (Conyers). Governors believe that it will be in the best interests of our school to join a multi-academy trust incorporating these schools upon our own academy conversion. We strongly believe that all these schools share our ethos and vision for the future and that we can work successfully together in a positive partnership for the educational benefit of all the children whom we care for.  Bader Primary in Thornaby is already well down the road towards academy conversion and they are also intending to join what is currently known as the Conyers Trust.

As part of our exploration of what Academy status might mean for Layfield School, we would like to hear the views of our parents, staff and the wider community. We are therefore commencing formal consultation on Monday 12th June 2017. Consultation will end at 3.15pm on Friday 7th July 2017.

We would encourage you to present your support, views, concerns and questions during that time. All submissions received by the end of the consultation process will be considered at a meeting of the Full Governing Body on Tuesday 11th July 2017. Please refer to the last section of this document for details of how to submit your views.

As part of the consultation process, the three primaries will be holding consultation meetings for parents and other interested parties, the aim of which is to hear your views and answer any queries you might have. We have agreed that each school’s Headteacher and Chair of Governors will attend each of the three meetings, along with representation from what is currently known as the Conyers Trust. The meeting at Layfield will take place on Tuesday 27th June at 6pm.

What is an Academy?

Academies are state schools that are funded directly from central Government, rather than by the Local Authority, and as a result receives directly the money that the Local Authority has previously spent on its behalf.  This means that academies have greater freedoms and flexibilities compared to Authority-maintained schools. Schools that are performing well (with OfSTED judgements of ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’) can apply to become academies.

What is a Multi-Academy Trust?

A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) allows a group of schools that share similar aims and ambitions to work together as one charitable trust. A MAT is registered as a company with Companies House and is accountable directly to the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Secretary of State for Education. The schematic below shows the simplified proposed structure of the Conyers Trust MAT:

 

What are the advantages to Layfield?

  • Formalising, extending and consolidating the strong partnerships that have existed for a number of years between the schools involved for the benefit of our pupils.
  • Significant staff professional development across all phases; enhanced subject leadership opportunities; development of middle management and management at all levels in all phases to improve teaching and learning.
  • Curriculum expertise and opportunity: increased subject specialist opportunities in schools, leading to more engaging teaching and learning experiences for staff and children.
  • Educational benefits for the children through increased freedoms around curriculum teaching. We would still be subject to the same system of OfSTED scrutiny and would use the 2014 National Curriculum as a basis for our teaching.
  • Potential for additional capital funding bids that are not available to Authority-maintained schools.
  • Increased freedom to purchase goods and services from the wider market and to negotiate good and services specifically for our needs rather than using Local Authority services and providers.
  • Further strengthening and promoting collaborative working links between schools to facilitate joint learning between different groups of children from different schools within the MAT umbrella.
  • Enhanced transition opportunities for all children and the development of a secure pathway through to 16 or 18 for the vast majority of our children who transfer to Conyers at the end of Y6.
  • To become part of a strategic partnership, focused on the educational needs of the local area, by enhancing governance and management, giving us greater flexibly to meet the local needs.

How would Layfield change?

In short, there will be very little that changes in terms of the day-to-day running of the school: uniform, school name, branding, staffing and all the other things that make Layfield the special place that it is would remain unchanged, and our main driving force when making the decision to pursue academy conversion was to ensure that Layfield retained all that made it Layfield! We fully expect the parents, children and staff will not notice any tangible differences.

The school’s existing Governing Body would continue to fulfil its statutory responsibilities.

The Academy Trust would employ our staff rather than the Local Authority, but all national agreements on pay and conditions would still apply. Employment rights would transfer to the Academy Trust; pension rights etc would be preserved.

The school will still be subject to the same level of scrutiny from OfSTED and the Local Authority do still retain a monitoring role for all schools in the Authority area.

Further information

The most comprehensive suite of information on academy conversion is that provided by the DfE itself. For starters, an introduction is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/types-of-school/academies

A parliamentary research briefing also gives lots of valuable information in FAQ format regarding academies:

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0ahUKEwiIxcmo55DUAhUjDsAKHbpTAwkQFghJMAY&url=http%3A%2F%2Fresearchbriefings.files.parliament.uk%2Fdocuments%2FSN07059%2FSN07059.pdf&usg=AFQjCNGxi1dMZW0EYQw83RLdkXfFDQ4NgQ&sig2=h5X3YDbRgakrcJMQ9TTyOA&cad=rja

The Anti-Academies Alliance is an umbrella group for those opposed to academy conversion (although it has not been updated recently):

http://antiacademies.org.uk/

Submit your views

By email: layfield.school@stockton.gov.uk (‘Academy Consultation’ in the subject line)

By post: Chair of Governors, Layfield Primary School, Everingham Road, Yarm, TS15 9TF (envelopes clearly marked ‘Academy Consultation).

Yours sincerely,

Mr Andrew Hogg

Chair of Governors

Layfield Primary School