WHY DO WE WANT TO BECOME AN ACADEMY?
- What is an academy?
Academy schools are state-funded schools in England, which are directly funded by central government (specifically, the Department for Education) and independent of direct funding and control by the local authority.
- Are all academies the same?
No. There are many different types of academy. For example, some schools have become academies independently; others have joined together with other schools to form a multi-academy trust (MAT); whilst others have joined larger groups and organisations, often known as academy chains. Different academies have a variety of school improvement and governance arrangements.
There are also differences in the amount of ‘standardisation’ or ‘alignment’ that individual MATs expect. Some have a standardised curriculum that they insist their schools teach, others do not and allow the school to continue to teach in the ways that it believes are the best for their children. Some MATs insist on the same uniform or ‘branding’ of the school, others do not.
- Why are we considering converting to an academy now?
The current educational climate is changing and many schools nationally are choosing to take advantage of the benefits that becoming an academy brings. Many schools wish to make the move now to determine their own destiny and to make the changes when it is right for their own school. As a successful school, gaining academy status would give us the autonomy to continue to develop and to maintain our high standards. Becoming part of a MAT will bring greater opportunities for working even more closely with other local schools and the wider trust community of schools. We genuinely believe that it will help make us even better as a school. As in all of the decisions that we make, the impact on the children is our highest priority. We don’t make changes unless it will help our school community.
- Who are Consilium?
Consilium are a strong trust that works with eight secondary academies and one alternative provision setting across the North of England. They are based here in Salford, and have schools in Salford, Huddersfield and also in the North East.
Last year the trust won MAT of the Year at The National Schools Awards, details of which can be found here.
Consilium’s mission, values and inclusivity match our own at The Deans
The Consilium Mission – “Enriching Lives, Inspiring Ambitions”:
“We are proud to be Consilium Academies, a Trust that believes in the unique value of each individual. Our vision, actions, and purpose are guided by this principle and a dedication to do all we can for the communities we serve.
We never put a ceiling on potential. Instead, we work with our Academies to provide high-quality education that is truly inclusive, giving every student the same opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in life beyond the classroom.
We are committed to enriching the lives of all those involved in our Trust through an ambitious, student-centred approach to education.
At Consilium, we believe in:
Partnerships – Collaboration is the key to success. We work together to deliver on the promise set out in our mission statement.
Opportunity – Our aim of “Enriching Lives, Inspiring Ambitions” applies to all members of our Trust community, with our inclusive approach delivering a breadth of opportunities to give each individual the chance to fulfil their potential and prosper.
Integrity – Through our student-centred approach, advantage and ability are never seen as a ticket to involvement. We believe in every child’s right to high-quality education and access to amazing opportunities – irrespective of their individual circumstances. Integrity at Consilium means always putting students at the heart of everything we do.
Equity – We are truly inclusive, believing passionately that every student should be given the skills and support needed for them to meet their full potential. We are aspirational for all of our students, and we will ensure every student has the opportunities they need to achieve the highest of ambitions.
Excellence – We don’t settle for second-best, our standards are always high and we support everyone across the Trust to achieve them.
Being People-Centred – We genuinely want the best for each member of Consilium, that’s why everyone is treated with the highest level of respect. Our inclusive culture inspires us to be bold and engenders trust. It brings us together in ways that help us make a difference.”
- Are any other schools in our local area academies?
Yes, there are a number of academies in our region; however, all academies are different in the same way that every school is different. Within Salford secondaries, all schools are academies. In primary there are schools already in Multi Academy Trusts, some stand alone academies and some maintained schools. It is a very mixed picture.
All schools , however, have been encouraged over recent years to carefully consider their position in relation to becoming an academy. Many primary schools in the faith sectors are being strongly encouraged to join faith MATs.
- What are the advantages of becoming an academy and joining a MAT?
Our governors and headteacher believe that working together to ensure the highest standards across the trust is an exciting new proposition. We will also continue to actively work with all local schools and current partners, ensuring the best of both worlds.
Advantages of joining a MAT:
- Allowing Leaders of Learning to focus on Learning.
- Collective development and support across a group that wants to work together
- Strengthening of Governance accountability – additional support from educational experts
- More collective bargaining and cost reduction
- Professional development across subjects – drawing on secondary expertise
- Support for school systems – HR, Budgeting, Grounds maintenance etc
- Review of all of our systems and processes as part of joining to ensure they are as efficient and effective as possible
Advantages of joining Consilium specifically:
- Consilium have the same values and speak the same language
- Consilium know our school well – they have less schools to oversee than a National MAT or LA
- Able to carry on with what we do in the way that we do it where applicable – if it’s working don’t fix it
- They are a local MAT that recognises what we can contribute to the bigger system, joining things up for our children
- Established back office systems and processes that have worked – less time spent on running an organisation and more time focused on children and families
- We would be the first primary at the table – there may therefore be an opportunity to grow and develop the system
- If we are the only primary, there is a massive incentive to support us and make sure that it is the best that it can be
- Local and smaller – no massive expansion plans – any school that might join the trust has to add value, it has to work for everyone to join
- What are the disadvantages of academy status?
As an academy, there are a number of additional responsibilities placed on the school in terms of financial management and reporting, however these are dealt with centrally and not within the school itself. It is expected that on a day-to-day basis, pupils, their parents and carers, teachers and staff will not notice the difference if we became an academy.
WHAT DAY-TO-DAY CHANGES WILL HAPPEN?
- Will a move to academy status mean a new name for the school?
No. The school will continue to be called The Deans Primary School. Please be assured that the character, ethos and values of our school would remain unchanged should academy conversion take place.
- Would becoming an academy mean a new uniform?
No. Parents will not need to buy a new uniform.
- Would becoming an academy mean the school could still be open to the community?
Yes. There will be no change to the current provision and use of the school by different groups to hold events.
- What will be the impact on our children with special needs?
There will be no change to the level of support provided. We will continue to recognise that every child is different and has the right to be included as a valued, respected and equal member of the school community. Consilium’s inclusive ethos was one of the factors that we felt made a good fit for our school.
- Will the school hours be any different as an academy?
Although it is highly unlikely that the school day will be changed, as is the case now, parents would be consulted prior to any change in school hours, although no change is envisaged.
- Will pupils’ education be disrupted by a transition to academy status?
No. If conversion is approved, it will happen with minimal disruption to staff and students. Most of the changes will take place behind the scenes, with support from a dedicated team from the trust who have gone through this process before.
- If we move to being an academy, will this change what is taught?
We would be expected to continue to offer the full range of National Curriculum subjects. OFSTED inspects academies and their handbook for inspection is the same one as is used in any other school. The academy would be expected to strive to be outstanding in the statutory OFSTED rating.
Any changes, as now, would be made by leaders in the school because we believed it was the best thing to do for the children.
WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR OUR SCHOOL FINANCES?
- How is an academy funded?
In maintained schools, all revenue funding (building funding is slightly different) goes directly to the local authority (LA). The LA takes a proportion of the money from the school budget to provide essential services to the school and the rest is delegated under the local management of schools. Schools can, and do, buy additional services from the LA and other providers. As a result, schools currently depend upon the LA for many services such as school improvement, HR, finance, etc.
Academies will receive the same level of per-pupil funding as maintained schools, plus funding to meet additional responsibilities that are no longer provided for them by the LA. The money that would have been provided to the LA to run the school would be provided directly to Consilium, which would retain some of the budget in order to provide services to the academy.
Being part of a larger organisation increases bargaining power and the ability to get better deals on services etc. This ultimately means that there would be more money available to spend on each child.
- Does this improve on current funding arrangements?
Converting to an academy will not be to our detriment financially, although there may be the potential for some financial gain; however, no decision will be motivated by money. Funding is available to cover the costs of the conversion process itself, which is provided by central government once the decision to convert has been approved. In addition, the trust board has access to capacity funding from the Department for Education as well as opportunities to bid for capital funding on an annual basis.
WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR TEACHERS AND STAFF?
- What will be the terms and conditions for staff?
On conversion, teachers and staff currently employed by Salford Council will transfer with the same terms and conditions, via a formal TUPE (transfer of undertakings protection of employment) process, to become employees of Consilium. Conversion will not affect any union memberships. All terms and conditions as part of Consilium match or improve the contracts of employment currently under Salford Council.
- Who will employ teachers and staff following conversion?
At present, teachers and other school staff are employed by Salford Council. Following conversion, they will be employed directly by Consilium Academies.
- Will Consilium employ non-qualified teachers?
No. All class groups of pupils will be registered to a qualified teacher, as is the case in schools currently.
WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR STANDARDS?
- Does Consilium have the capacity to support our educational standards?
The trust has established its own school improvement capacity for secondary schools – this includes a school improvement lead and regular use of education consultants. Collectively, the team is experienced and well-qualified to support and challenge schools in data analysis; teaching; behaviour; safeguarding; pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development; special educational needs and disabilities; and leadership and management.
As a single primary school in the trust we would be supported initially by DBE School improvement Services, provisioning us with additional support and expertise.The school improvement package will be driven by the needs that we identify in the school. All of our normal school evaluation processes will continue and DBE’s support will enhance this – we are still in control of what we want to focus on and improve as we have shown over the years that we know what we are doing.
Hopefully many of your questions will have been answered on this web page and in the consultation letter that we shared. http://tiny.cc/Deans_Consultation_Letter
As the letter states we believe that this potential collaboration would strengthen our school community and create an even more nurturing and supportive environment for our children to thrive. To reiterate, the primary focus of this potential partnership is to allow our teachers and leaders to concentrate even more intently on educating our children.
Your views and questions matter to us. Questions raised in the consultation will be responded to through a FAQ document produced in early September.