Academy Conversion Consultation

Academy Conversion Consultation 2018

As you may already be aware, the governing body of Cheslyn Hay Sport and Community High School has applied to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010 and join the Windsor Academy Trust. The governing body is now consulting on whether the school’s academy conversion should take place. Further information about what becoming an academy means, and how to comment on the proposals, is set out below.

Will Cheslyn Hay Sport and Community High School definitely become an academy?

The governing body has submitted an application to convert to academy status and is working towards a conversion in the autumn term 2018. However, the school is not obligated to become an academy until the contract between the academy trust and the Department for Education (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed.

The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of students at the school, staff at the school, and students themselves have had the opportunity to comment on whether the school should become an academy. We have written to all parents and carers and invited them to a meeting at school, to learn more about the proposals to become an academy, or to comment on the proposals. Click here to view a copy of the letter to parents and carers.    Academy Consultation Letter

We have held meetings with staff, and will be keeping students informed throughout the process.

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.

The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement unless they are content that conversion would be in the best interests of the school taking account of all of the legal and practical ramifications.

How can I find out more?

As part of our consultation, we are very keen to hear your views. The period of consultation will open on: 

Monday 4th June 2018 at 4.00pm and closes on Friday 22nd June 2018 at 4.00pm 

We do encourage you to present your support, views, questions and concerns. All submissions received by Friday 22nd June 2018 will be considered at a meeting of the full Governing Body on 2nd July 2018. 

Please submit your views either: 

• By email to AcademyMATconsultation@cheslynhay-high.staffs.sch.uk 

• In writing to ‘Academy MAT Consultation’, Cheslyn Hay Sport and Community High School. Saredon Road, Cheslyn Hay, Walsall WS6 7JQ 

• At our Stakeholder/Parent Information Day on 12th June 2018 sessions at 2.15 – 3.00pm; 4.15 – 5.00pm and 6.30 – 7.15pm. 

• By appointment with myself Ms N Crookshank, Headteacher at school 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a list of the frequently asked questions about academy conversion that you may find useful. The information provided aims to help answer questions which may arise as part of Cheslyn Hay Sport & Community High School’s consideration of converting to academy status and joining Windsor Academy Trust. This information does not replace any formal consultation that takes place during the conversion process and is only intended as an aid.

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.

Previously academies have tended to replace schools which have poor results or otherwise needed to improve. Under the Academies Act 2010, all schools are able to become academies. As Cheslyn Hay Sport and Community High School is a good school we can apply without being part of a group of schools, and without a sponsor, but have chosen to join the Windsor Academy Trust. As an academy we would still be inspected by Ofsted.

What is the main motivation for converting to academy status?

Finance: Academies receive funding directly from central government rather than via the local authority. This includes funds that would previously have been retained by the local authority and directed as they see fit. Academies may also accumulate funds from private sources should it choose to.

National Curriculum: Academies are not required to follow the national curriculum as long as the curriculum remains ‘broad and balanced’. This will allow Cheslyn Hay Sport & Community High School to greater flexibility in determining a curriculum that best suits our students.

Admissions: Academies are responsible for drawing up their own admissions criteria in line with the Academies Code and SEN Code of Practice (the law). Just like maintained schools, academies are required to cater for children of all abilities (unless they were already selective).

Length of terms and school days: Academies have the freedom to set the length of its terms and school days, this will be decided in partnership with the Multi Academy Trust. However, this does not mean we intend to change the current school day or term arrangements.

Pay and terms of conditions of staff: The Multi Academy Trust and the academy are responsible for agreeing levels of pay, conditions of service, staffing structures, career development and appraisal. Regardless of this, all existing staff transfer from the Local Authority under the legislation known as TUPE regulations which protect their current conditions.

Will the school be run more like a business after becoming an academy?

A business makes profit for its shareholders, a Multi Academy Trust is a charitable trust which cannot make profit, Cheslyn Hay Sport and Community High School would be part of this and as such the transition should be seamless and any changes should not be noticeable.

Who has made the decision for Cheslyn Hay Sport & Community High School to become an academy?

The Governing Body

Are academies bound by the same rules and regulations as other schools?

Multi Academy Trusts and academies are required to follow the law and guidance on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions.

Will the school still follow the National Curriculum?

Broadly speaking yes, but we would also have more freedom to try different things within the curriculum to ensure what is taught to our pupils is relevant and caters for their specific needs.

Will becoming an academy alter the relationship with our local schools and the community?

No, academy funding agreements state that academies must ensure they are at the heart of their community, collaborating and sharing facilities with other local schools and the wider community.

Will the school still work with the Local Authority as an academy?

All academies are independent of the Local Authority. However, it is our intention to work with the Multi Academy Trust, the Local Authority, other local schools and local partners.

How will governance of the academy work?

The Multi Academy Trust has a board of directors who are ultimately responsible for the Trust and its academies. This board will be responsible for appointing the majority of the governors for us including the position of chair of governors. However, we have been assured that our current composition of governors will remain unchanged.

The governing body will continue to set the vision for the academy in line with the overall commitment to the Multi Academy Trust. The governing body will continue to set the budget/spending plan and improvement plan which will be approved by the Multi Academy Trust board.

The governing body will have delegated powers from the Trust Board, including the management of finance and property and the appointment of staff. The schedule of delegations is the same across each of the academies within the Multi Academy Trust.

What will happen to our school’s funding?

The Department for Education meets the running costs for an academy in full. Academy funding is calculated in the same way and on a like for like basis as with a Local Authority maintained school. This means that the school will have a similar budget to its predecessor school. However, there will be greater freedoms to procure services from other providers un-associated with the local authority allowing cost efficiencies, utilising the Multi Academy Trust to help achieve more efficient use of resources to support school improvement.

As an academy we will still be required to agree a balanced budget, like maintained schools, academies cannot run at a loss, it has to break-even.

How will the school be accountable financially?

As an academy, Cheslyn Hay Sport & Community High School will be governed by the rules and regulations for charitable trusts, e.g. the academy will be required to produce and file accounts and trustees cannot be paid. There will be robust systems with an audit conducted by an external independent auditor.

How does academy status affect SEN Funding?

SEN funding will be paid directly from the government through the Education & Skills Funding Agency. Any funding allocated to a named child would continue to be funded directly by Staffordshire County Council.

Does it cost to become an academy?

Yes, there are legal costs associated with becoming an academy. However, the government gives each school £25,000 as a contribution towards these costs and it is unlikely that the cost of converting should exceed this.

Who will own the school buildings and land?

Staffordshire County Council will be required to grant the Multi Academy Trust a 125 year lease.

Will the staff remain the same?

When converting from a Local Authority maintained school to a new academy, all permenant staff are entitled to transfer to it under the same terms and conditions.

Will the terms of employment for staff change?

As part of the TUPE arrangements, staff are entitled to transfer to the new academy under the same employment terms and conditions. However, it is essential that the academy is able to respond to any changing curriculum requirements and educational demands. This may therefore require consultation with staff and trade unions once the academy has been established. This would be necessary if, for example, if the Multi Academy Trust wished to introduce a particular organisational change to the academy’s term dates, or, if curriculum demands and the need for improved educational outcomes required a different leadership or organisational structure. At this time though there are no plans to alter any employee terms and conditions. 

What will happen with regard to staff pensions?

For teaching staff, after conversion to academy, the Multi Academy Trust is required to continue the teacher’s pension scheme, with the same employer responsibilities as a maintained Local Authority school. For all other staff (support staff), anyone who is a member of the local government pension scheme will remain in this scheme with the Multi Academy Trust securing ‘admitted body’ status with Staffordshire pension authority, this will protect the pension rights of employees and take on employer responsibility, both for contributions and administration of the scheme. Staff are however able to opt out of either scheme if they wish to make alternative provision.

Will the Headteacher be leaving?

No, there is no intention for the Headteacher to leave.

Are you consulting with staff, parents and the local community?

Yes, as part of our approach to academisation we are consulting with all key stakeholder groups including staff, students, parents and local primary schools. This includes sharing our plans for joining a Multi Academy Trust and an opportunity to gather feedback and suggestions, as well as addressing any questions or concerns.

Will Trade unions be recognised and engaged with following conversion?

Yes, the role of trade unions is recognised and seen as a critical tool of the transition process and ongoing success of the school. They also play an important role in the TUPE transfer process of staff.

Which Multi Academy Trust will the school be joining?

Preliminary discussions were held with several Multi Academy Trusts over the last two years. This led to the governors unanimously deciding to move forward to full consultation with Windsor Academy Trust.

Why has Windsor Academy Trust been chosen?

Through extensive meetings and discussions with Windsor Academy Trust we have found that they are a like minded organisation, who share our core values and beliefs. They are a medium size Multi Academy Trust with the capacity to support our school effectively.

Windsor Academy Trust are looking to create a Hub within South Staffordshire. The vision for Cheslyn Hay Sport and Community High School joining this Hub is to offer support and collaborate with other schools in the Trust and local Hub offering best practice and high standards of teaching.

What will Windsor Academy Trust offer to the Cheslyn Hay Sport & Community High School?

Windsor Academy Trust has a strong track record of school improvement. They are able to offer key support structures and systems that the Local Authority has reducing capacity for, whilst demonstrating best value. Cheslyn Hay will be able to utilise these services whilst also sharing best practice with the Trust and its other schools.

Will the school remain non-selective?

Yes, academies are non-selective schools and are required to follow the law and guidance on admissions, SEN and exclusions in the same way as a maintained school.

Will the school change its name?

It is possible that the school will change its name. But, this will only be a minor change and will still be ‘Cheslyn Hay’

As an academy will we work with the local authority and other schools?

Where possible and appropriate as an academy we may buy back services from the Local Authority, as an academy we are able to work with any school we wish to, if this has a positive impact on the education of the children.

Will there be a new uniform?

We do not envisage there being a change to the school uniform. However, if any changes to the uniform do occur, these will be phased in. Students would be allowed to wear the current uniform and parents should just purchase new uniform items as and when required.

More information about academies can also be found on the DfE website:

http://www.education.gov.uk/academies