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Academy News

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Important Announcement

We are happy to announce that we have now received confirmation from the Secretary of State for Education that our academy conversion has been finalised and is now official from today - 1st February 2017. Our school will become Great Wakering Primary Academy and will be converting as a sponsor academy as part of the Brickfields Multi Academy Trust.

Our staff have worked incredibly hard to establish a strong record of improvement which we are now proud to be able to share with other schools in our community.

Barling Magna Primary will also be converting to an academy as part of the Brickfields Trust today too. Both of our schools will benefit from working closely together to cement existing ties and share good practice to ensure the best possible outcomes for all our children and we are looking forward to this next step in our school journey.

 

 

Consultation Event Monday 7th November Power Point by Headteacher

For those that missed the presentation event on Monday 7th November, here is the power point presentation, that the Headteacher used on the day; and the Minutes of both meetings are also attached.

Please see the letter below from our Chair of Governors.

 Dear Parents/Carers,                                                                                                                                                                                        

We would like to inform you that our Governing Body have been going through the process of applying to become an Academy  Sponsor.   The Department of Education has approved our application in principle pending the outcome of a consultation with  all of our stakeholders.                                                                                                                                                                                    

We will shortly be providing you with further information and giving you the opportunity to ask questions and offer your views  about this change. In the meantime if you would like to find out more there is lots of information about Academies available  online, or you are welcome to contact us if you have any questions at this stage.  We would prefer for you to email any questions  or you can call the school office staff who will take details of your queries and we will get back to you.                                                                                                             We will also be updating our website regularly to keep you informed about upcoming meetings.  We look forward to your  continued support.

 Yours faithfully,

 Mrs Judith Puddick - Chair of Governors

Academy Myth Buster

Response to questions received as part of our Academy Consultation

What is the primary driver to convert to Academy status as the proposed Government legislation does not require this?

 The primary reasons for us are;

  • Increased control and autonomy for our school
  • Having a formal legal structure for providing support to other schools
  • Increased funding opportunities and control over financial outgoings
  • More opportunities for staff development and opportunities to be creative about future recruitment and retention of teachers

Academy conversion is still very firmly on the DfE’s agenda, even if it didn’t make it to the Education Bill, it is still their preferred model. We are in a unique position here on the border between Southend and Essex. Schools in our Rochford cluster are converting with established MATs ( Multi Academy Trusts ) and we want to create and develop our own whilst we still have choices about who we work with and how we proceed. It would also allow us to formalise partnerships with schools in Southend in the future.  

What changes do you expect the pupils to have in respect of day to day schooling?

There is little change within the individual schools, unless they are inadequate, as it is mainly the Governance structure that changes. Therefore pupils at Great Wakering Primary School will see little difference day to day. Academy conversion does help to improve standards in all schools as teachers are given more professional development opportunities and shared training. It also helps with teacher recruitment as the increased funding means that there are more opportunities to provide places for trainee teachers and staff can be deployed across more than one school to fill vacancies.

What are the key improvements that are expected to be seen for the children?

The following areas all have positive impact on pupil standards.

  • More control over spending and procurement means that we can make choices about how to staff and resource our school
  • Increased staff development opportunities improves the quality of teaching and learning
  • A stronger Governance structure ensures that outcomes for pupils are high as we are directly accountable to the DfE

Has this academy decision got anything to do with all the new houses that have been built, and the extra children that will need a school place? If so how will this affect the school? 

The new houses have not influenced this decision. The developers will have to provide money for primary school places for their next phase of development if there aren’t enough places available locally; if we stay as we are the money will come via the Local Authority, if we convert then the money will come directly to the Academy Trust, but either way it will still come to the school.

Will staff levels or class sizes be changing to meet the growing number of families expected to move into the area?

We may need to employ more staff over time as there will be larger numbers of pupils in our catchment area. We already have had classes of up to 32 children and would not ever want to exceed that number. Academy conversion would have no impact in terms of making changes as a result of increased pupil numbers locally.

Is GWPS going to be Stand Alone Academy or will it be part of a MAT with other schools, if so will there be guaranteed funding for each member and what other schools will be part of the MAT?

We have been given approval to convert as a Sponsor MAT. This means that we will be the lead school and we could be asked by the DfE to support schools in difficulty. Our Trustees would have to complete very thorough due diligence to ensure that we have the capacity to provide support to any new member school and we can say no. We plan to grow slowly over time. Schools will be funded in the same way as they are now but there is potential for efficiency savings if the schools are close to each other geographically.

Will there be any changes to the current National Curriculum taught to the children?

We plan to continue to follow the National Curriculum, there is no point in us making changes for changes sake and children will still sit the same SATs, however we are continually reviewing what and how we teach and academy conversion would give us the freedom to move away from the National Curriculum if we wanted to later. However we would only do this if we felt that we could offer a better alternative.

Are the current charges for things like meals and excursions going to be changing?

At the moment we have to charge to cover all of our catering costs and would continue in the same way. Academies are not allowed to make a profit and Trustees are unpaid. We have no plans to raise prices but we do review charges every year when we set our school budget. Academies also receive the same funding as LA maintained schools to provide Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM).

Will there be any changes to the admissions policy?

Again an Academy can change its admissions policy and it would be the decision of our trustees to do this. It would involve a consultation if we did decide to make any changes but again there are no plans to change this in the near future.

Will there be any changes to the name of the school, uniforms and the school emblem?

No all will stay exactly as they are now. We will probably become the Great Wakering Primary Academy but that would be the only change.

Are there going to be any changes to the current term dates and school day times?

As you are aware we already made some changes to term dates this year to help parents to avoid peak holiday times but we did a full consultation on this and would do if we changed again. We have no plans to make any significant changes though.

What are the opinions of the staff with regards to the proposed move?

All the teaching staff are quite excited about the opportunities that conversion would bring. They would remain on the same pay and conditions but would have more opportunities for promotion or working across other schools. Staff have been aware of the plans for a little longer than parents and I have not received any concerns or objections.

Do you envisage any problems in staff recruitment/retention in the future as nationally there seems to be concern in this area.

We have already seen a big impact from the national shortage of high quality teachers. We are addressing this already by ensuring that we have trainee teachers as part of our succession planning. Being part of an academy trust would also allow us to overstaff in case we had difficulty filling vacancies. We are also already partners with the local Teaching School Alliance.

I have read that schools bid high wages to obtain the best teachers. Where does this funding come from? And has this the potential to cause schools with less funding ending up with poor teaching staff? 

You are right that Academy Trusts do not have to follow the standard teachers’ pay and conditions documents but they do not have unlimited budgets and we would not be able to afford to start paying our teachers on a higher rate than national. All of our staff would TUPE over on exactly the same pay and conditions as they are on now and we would continue to use these for future appointments.  

Who will be running the Trust?

We would have 5 members, these are; an Education Advisor, an Accountant, a HR company CEO, a Business Banker and the CEO of the Essex Chambers of Commerce.

We then have 7 trustees who are, myself, a school business manager, 2 of the members above, our finance officer, a current parent governor and our Essex LA school advisor. The trustees do the day to day running of the trust and the members ensure they are doing a good job. Our school would also have a Local Governing Body or School Advisory Board who would be made up of elected representatives from parents, staff and other interested parties. This group provides information back to the trustees to ensure that they understand local views.

How exactly do academy schools support each other?

Academy Trusts receive their funding directly from the DfE to provide additional teachers or school improvement staff that work across schools that are facing difficulty. The DfE provides school improvement grants to enable this work to happen. As schools improve it builds capacity for additional schools to join the trust later. Because the Academy Trust has legal authority over every member school the trustees decide how to use funding available and what policies schools should follow, this drives up standards across all member schools.

When money comes to maintained schools now from the Local Authority they take a chunk off first for shared services across Essex, the Academy would receive all of this money directly to use in our Academy Trust as we wish. For example, Essex currently take £11,000 a year from our school budget to pay for our Broadband service, as an Academy we know that we could get the same service for significantly less if we are able to shop around, we can then use the saving to pay for teachers and resources for our children.

How does this affect the targets of the school?

The Academy Trust is held to account directly by the DfE for standards in every school that joins it. Schools are still inspected under the same Ofsted Framework. Our Academy Trust would set high targets for us and all member schools to meet. Our continual drive for high standards would not change.

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Invitation to Academy Consultation Event

Dear Parents/Carers,

Academy Consultation Event on Monday 7th November 2016 at 9:00am OR 7:00pm

As you are aware we are currently in the process of seeking your views about our proposal to convert to academy status and become an Academy Sponsor. We have been adding information to our website from questions raised so far.

We would now like to invite any interested parties to attend one of two sessions being held at Great Wakering Primary School on Monday 7th November 2016, one at 9:00am and one at 7:00pm. Each session will follow the same format so please attend whichever one is most convenient for your personal circumstances.

At both of these sessions we will give a short presentation about academy conversion, and what has driven our decision to make this change, and give you the opportunity to ask further questions.

Members of our Academy Trust will be here to tell you more about their backgrounds and why they decided to get involved. There will also be the opportunity to talk to members or to the Headteacher individually at the end of each meeting.

The consultation period will then formally close on Friday 11th November 2016 and we will let you know the final outcome following that date.

We look forward to seeing you there. If you have any questions in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact the school office.

Kind regards,

Judith Puddick                                                                  

Chair of Governors