STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION – TINSLEY MEADOWS PRIMARY SCHOOL PROPOSAL TO CONVERT TO AN ACADEMY
The governing body of Tinsley Meadows Primary School has applied to become a sponsor academy under the Academies Act 2010. This means that the school will be able to sponsor other schools under a Multi Academy Trust (MAT).
Further information about what becoming an academy means and how to comment on the proposals is set out below.
Will Tinsley Meadows Primary definitely become an academy?
The governing body has submitted an application to convert to academy status and is working towards a conversion in February or March 2016. However, the school is not obligated to become an academy until the contract between the governing body and the Department for Education (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed.
The governing body has not yet begun to negotiate the Funding Agreement with the DfE.
The governing body will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of pupils at the school, staff and pupils themselves have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals.
We had a very positive meeting with parents at our coffee morning on 17th November where we discussed the proposals and we are looking forward to another opportunity to discuss the proposals in more detail with more of our parents on 1st December at 9:30am at Lower Meadows. Please do come along to learn more if you can.
We are also holding meetings with staff and we will be consulting with children through our School Council.
Any comments or representations which are made about the proposals will be considered by the governing body before a decision is taken to sign the Funding Agreement. Details of how to provide comments and representations are set out below.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What is an academy?
An academy is essentially an independent school which is funded by the state. It is independent of the local authority and receives its funding direct from central government. We are proposing to become a sponsor academy with a view to establishing what is known as a Multi Academy Trust (MAT). In this model we would be the sponsor organisation and we would invite other schools to join the MAT under our leadership. Schools can only convert to sponsor academies if they are successful and have chosen to convert in order to benefit from the increased autonomy academy status brings.
Why are governors proposing to become a sponsor Academy?
The school has undergone a period of transformational improvement over the last 3-4 years. In 2010 Tinsley Junior School was categorised as ‘satisfactory’ by Ofsted. Within three years and under the challenging new Ofsted framework, the school was considered to be ‘Good’. Following this, Tinsley Junior School (TJS) merged with Tinsley Nursery Infant School (TNI) which was underperforming. Within 6 months, following a period of rapid transformation, TNI also achieved a ‘good’ rating. The school is now confident about achieving ‘Outstanding’ at the next inspection.
The school has received letters from Members of Parliament congratulating us on our success and we were even selected as a runner up in the 2015 national Pupil Premium Awards in recognition of our excellent outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.
We are very proud of our successes and we feel we are now in a position to share our experiences, expertise and strategies to ensure the best possible outcomes for children and families in the broader community.
Governors are clear that the partner schools joining our Multi Academy Trust will not only be looking to us for support, they will also bring with them expertise of their own which will enrich the curriculum and offer more possibilities for the sharing of resources.
What are the benefits of being an academy?
In the school’s opinion there are many benefits of becoming an academy:
First and foremost, we are clear that our priority reason for becoming an academy is to improve outcomes for children both within and external to Tinsley Meadows Primary School. We are confident that learning through collaboration with other schools will help us to continue to develop and improve so that our children receive the very best education and support.
It will also mean that we can offer more career opportunities for our excellent staff team as the sponsoring of other schools will create job opportunities and help us to retain good talent. With these increased opportunities generated through partnership working, we know we can keep standards high and continue to develop and refine our practices.
In addition to this, the following benefits apply:
- Academies are independent of local authority control
- This means that academies have more freedom about how they conduct themselves
- Academies receive their funding direct from central government
- This means that academies receive more funding because none is retained by the local authority for the provision of central services
- Academies have more freedom over the curriculum taught
- This means that academies do not need to teach parts of the National Curriculum which they do not consider appropriate for their pupils
- Academies have more freedom to undertake innovative projects
- Academies are companies and so have more freedom to undertake innovative projects, such as setting up and utilising trading subsidiaries.
How will this affect the new school build which is underway in Tinsley and will it mean that more of the park will be taken up as a result of the school converting to an academy?
The school’s proposal to become an academy is completely separate to the Local Authority’s approval of the new school build. The new build project has been led very much by the Local Authority and the school has participated in discussions only from a stakeholder perspective. Though we are pleased that the new build has received approval by planners, we are also aware of the concerns felt by some residents in relation to the future loss of more green space. We would like to provide reassurance to parents that the school has no designs on the rest of the park as a result of this academy conversion or indeed any other future development of the school.
The school is very much a part of the local community and we recognise the importance and value of community facilities such as the park.
Why are the timescales for conversion so tight?
Converting to an academy in February or March 2016 will make things like financial management much simpler given that the financial year comes to a close in March. In addition to this, the Regional Schools Commissioner has visited the school and was very impressed with our achievements and the outcomes we generate for our children. With this in mind it is clear that we can bring added value to more children across the City by being in an academy structure sooner rather than later. Governors are clear, however, that we will only convert at a time that is right for our children and the school.
Are there any disadvantages to becoming an academy?
The Academy Trust will be directly liable for matters such as insurance, employment liabilities, pensions, health and safety, and, property maintenance. However, this can create opportunities to test the market, thus enabling the school to achieve greater value for money. The direct funding arrangement will mean that we can ensure greater financial control at a time where school budgets are becoming increasingly tight.
Will the admissions arrangements change?
As a community school, Tinsley Meadows Primary’s admissions arrangements are set by the local authority, and the local authority also decides which pupils should be offered places at the school. The current admission arrangements will remain in place. If the academy wanted to change its admission arrangements consultation would be required.
How will the changes affect staff at the school?
If the school converts to an academy, all staff currently employed by the school will automatically transfer to the new academy on their current pay and conditions. If governors decide to proceed with the application to become and academy following this stakeholder consultation, a further staff consultation will take place with regards plans to transfer their existing terms and conditions to the new employing organisation.
Will Tinsley Meadows Primary School change?
We do not intend to change Tinsley Meadows Primary except in ways which we think will improve the school even more. For the children, it is unlikely that they will see much, if any, change in their day to day school lives. Academies do have the power to vary their curriculum and vary the length of the school day / term, however, it is not intended to take any such steps at this stage and we would engage with parents/carers, staff and students if we did ever intend to make such changes in the future.
Will the school name and uniform change as a result of the academy conversion?
The school name will not change. The academy trust will have a separate name to the school but this will not have an impact on the school uniform for Tinsley pupils. Tinsley Meadows Primary School will always keep its own identity which will include branding and school uniform.
How can I find out more?
Meetings will be held at the school sites as follows:
1st December 2015, 9:30am, Lower Meadows Hall
(A meeting also took place on 17th November at Upper Meadows where we have received some very positive feedback.
We would encourage you to attend if you have any questions, or simply want to learn more. Coffee and refreshments will be available. There is also more information about academies on the DfE website: http://www.education.gov.uk/academies.
If you can’t find the answer to your question here, or on the DfE website, and cannot attend either of the meetings above, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to assist you.
How can I make comments?
The closing date for comments as part of the consultation is 4th December 2015.
Representations can be made in writing to:
Sue Hunter, Chair of Governors – Care of: Alison Brigden, PA
Tinsley Meadows Primary School
Or by email to: email@example.com
Thank you in advance for your comments and contributions