Some frequently asked questions about Academies.
I have organised the questions into different headings to cover different elements of the school. These are T&L, Finance, Community, Governance, School Organisation, Consultation. At the end I have attached a brief summation of the overall benefits.
1. Teaching and Learning
Q. What impact does academy status have on special educational needs (SEN) provision?
A. Dene Magna will still be able to be named by parents who have students with a statement and the funding for statements will still come to the school. SEN provision will still be provided by the LA (Educational Psychologists, statementing and assessment, monitoring of SEN provision, individual assigned SEN resources for students with rare conditions and Pupil Referral Units)Q. Will converting allow us to have more money for building new classrooms/resources?
A. The additional funding can be used on many things but initially we would not be jumping a queue for new buildings (sadly). Any requests for new buildings would be made to the DfE directly.
Q. Will standards remain as high if we convert?
A. The freedoms afforded an Academy to innovate and deviate if needed from the National Curriculum will allow Dene Magna to continue its journey yet further. We already push the boundaries on normal practice and this will allow the Leadership Group and Governors of Dene Magna to really tailor provision that we know will get the best out of our young people.
Q. How will greater freedom affect Dene Magna? Will exams change?
A. We already have certain freedoms but as said, this will allow us to tailor provision to keep us at the forefront of educational provision. Exams will not change unless they do nationally but we will be able to explore certain avenues that may appeal whilst remembering that we serve the community and have a reputation to keep!
Q. Will the conversion process affect T&L?
A. The only impact we expect to see is a positive one with the power to innovate yet further and deliver a curriculum that continues to inspire and is tailored to our students.
Q. Will there be more money in the school if we convert?
A. Some. The purpose of this is not to amass money but to use the opportunities that any extra funding gives to tailor the curriculum to best meet the needs of our learners.
Q. How stable is the funding in the future?
A. There are no guarantees on this but we will continue to budget based upon our existing money and not on the ‘extra’ we would receive. No staff costs will be met by this money and it will be used
to develop effective practice and support learning in school and in partnership with the community.
If the funding changes then we will, as we would have anyway, continue to budget prudently.
Q. Will there be any changes to staff pay and conditions if the school becomes an Academy?
A. Under the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Act (known as TUPE) staff will
transfer to the Academy on exactly the same terms and conditions of employment as they currently
Q. Will my terms and conditions remain unchanged forever?
A. Once the transfer has taken place the Academy may consult at any time with staff and their trade
union representatives on changes to terms and conditions. We do not anticipate the need to make
any changes to terms and conditions in the immediate future but are obviously mindful of the
shifting economic climate. It is important to note that any changes because of this would have been
looked at regardless of us being an academy
Q. Will pension arrangements change?
A. No. Teachers will remain in the existing Teacher Pension Scheme. Support staff will also remain in
the Local Government Pension Scheme although this would be a defined section of the Scheme
specific to the Academy. It is not anticipated that this will mean any changes to employee
contribution rates or benefits.
Q. What about the future?
A. Academy status or not, we would have to respond to shifting financial futures. This will not be
changed if we convert. We would still need to operate a prudent budget and have a staffing
structure that reflects this. Our aim will, as ever, be to get the best results for our students.
Q. What other services will we need to buy in?
A. There are certain legal services and other services that we will need to buy in but these will not be
at the expense of standards. If we work with other schools, we would be able to negotiate
Q. Will parents still have a say?
A. We want to have a Governing Body for Dene Magna so views will be represented through this. We
will also continue to quality assure what we do through parent consultation.
Q. Will admissions procedures or catchment areas change as an Academy?
A. No. Admissions procedures will remain in line with the nationally agreed Admissions Code of
Practice and we have no plans to alter our catchment area in the immediate future. Ant changes to
catchment will only be if there is a significant growth in housing within the catchment and even
then, this can only be decided by the Local Authority.
Q. Do you intend to introduce academic selection?
A. No. We fully intend to remain an all-ability comprehensive serving our local community and the surrounding area.
Q. Is the Governing Body confident it can recruit Trustees who have the skills and time to carry out the role?
A. We will ensure that the right people are on the trust. It may present an opportunity to broaden the net of what we do but we would remain committed to the voice and workings of a Governing Body.
5. School organization
Q. Will Dene Magna have the same term dates as the other schools in the area?
A. Whilst t here is the freedom to set our own dates for terms we would wish to remain aligned with the county as this would have terrible knock on effects with families, staff and relations with other schools
Q. Will there be any changes to catchment or admissions?
A. We will still operate under the local agreements for admissions and for the catchment of the school. This would only change if there were a significant shift in demographics locally that forced a change. Any such change would be done through the LA
Q. What say do parents have if they are unhappy about the way the school is running?
A. Academies are not part of the local authority and, therefore, if parents are not satisfied or are unhappy with the outcome, they cannot complain, as they can now, to the local council to ask them to intervene on their behalf. We would seek to ensure that the Governing Body of the school remain key in how we self evaluate and run. Parents will still be represented at Governance level.
Q. Will there be additional costs to parents?
A. No, we will remain as we are. There will be no change in uniform or anything to incur any additional costs that do not already exist.
Q. Is the school required to consult parents/local community?
A. Whilst there is not set formula for this we feel it is vital. If the Governing Body agree that we should look to convert, this will spark a period of consultation of staff, students, parents and local community.
Q. How can I support the school in becoming an Academy?
A. Let us know your views and the reasons why you support the school in becoming an Academy. All views for and against will be considered by the Governing body before making a final decision.
Q. I am a parent/member of staff and don’t want the school to become an Academy. What do I do?
A. Let us know your views and the reasons why you don’t want the school to become an Academy. All views for and against will be considered by the Governing body before making a final decision.
Q. How can I communicate my views about the school converting?
A. You can write to: Stephen Brady, Headteacher, Dene Magna School, Abenhall Road, Mitcheldean, GL17 0DU or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Will there be an opportunity to meet with Governors to discuss any questions or concerns I may have?
A. We intend to hold a consultation evening on Monday 6th June 2011 when parents and members of the community will be able to raise issues with Governors and senior staff. This starts at 5.30 pm in the school hall.
Q. Will the school be talking to trade union representatives about this proposed change?
A. We are consulting with staff representative bodies both over the general principles of conversion and, if conversion goes ahead, specifically about the transfer of staff to the new employer.
These factors are opportunities for us to work on. We can genuinely deliver a unique education for our learners and use the freedoms assigned to us to create something that takes Dene Magna on to the next level. Freedoms that may actually develop more over time. They may not be staring us in the face today but the opportunity may present itself in the right circumstances in the future. We need to be prepared for it.
It is our belief that converting to an academy will benefit all of the learners at Dene Magna and, with our continued outward facing attitude, our partnerships with the local community will continue to strengthen.