As you may already be aware, the governing body of the St Paul’s C of E (c) Primary has applied to become an academy as part of the St Chad’s Multi Academy Trust (MAT) under the
Academies Act 2010. The governing body is now consulting on whether the school’s conversion to academy status should take place. Further information about what becoming an academy means, and how to comment on the proposals, is set out below.
Will St Paul’s definitely become an academy?
The governing body has submitted an application to convert to academy status as part of the St Chads Multi Academy Trust and is working towards a conversion in April 2019. 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 governing body has not even begun to negotiate the Funding Agreement with the DfE yet.
The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of pupils at the school ,staff at the school, and pupils themselves have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals. We have written to all parents and carers and have planned a meeting in October to learn more about the proposals to become an academy, or to comment on the proposals. We have also held meetings with staff, and will be keeping pupils 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 governing body 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.
What is the process for joining an existing MAT?
The business of running the academy school will transfer from the single academy trust to the MAT. The following steps therefore need to be taken:
- the school, MAT and the Secretary of State will enter into a deed which will transfer the responsibility for complying with the existing funding agreement to the MAT
- the employment of the staff of the school will transfer from the local authority to the MAT in accordance with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (‘TUPE’)
- the assets and contracts of the school will be transferred from the school to the MAT under a commercial transfer agreement (it may sometimes be necessary for the local authority to be a party to this agreement)
- the MAT will need to be given use of the school land and buildings, usually either by way of a 125 year lease with the local authority or the transfer of the freehold of the land, as applicable.
Will our Governor’s roles change when we join a MAT?
When the academy joins the MAT, it is usual for there to be three tiers of governance rather than two. These three tiers will be:
- members of the MAT
- board of trustees of the MAT (the Board)
- local governing bodies (LGBs) for each academy school.
What is a local governing body?
Within a MAT, each school will usually have its own local governing body (LGB). These have a similar status to committees of a maintained governing body and the only powers they have are those that are delegated to them by the Board. This is normally formalised into a scheme of delegation. Whilst individuals serving on an LGB may also be trustees of the MAT, retaining some distinction between the layers is important to ensure effective oversight and challenge. It is common for individuals serving on an LGB to be referred to a ‘governors’, although technically the governors of an academy trust are the trustees.
Whilst the LGBs will usually have delegated authority to run the academy school, the Board will be ultimately responsible for all academies it runs.
What are the benefits of being an academy?
- 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 is appropriate for their pupils
- academies can set their own pay and conditions of service for their staff – academies have the
freedom to alter the pay and conditions of their staff (subject to normal employment law protections for
staff) and so can provide staff with better pay and conditions than previously 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
Are there any disadvantages to becoming an academy?
As an academy within a Multi Academy Trust, St Chads will be directly liable for matters such as insurance, employment liabilities, pensions, health and safety, and, property maintenance. However, as mentioned above, academies receive more
funding from central government to help them meet these additional costs.
Will the admissions arrangements change?
As a voluntary controlled school St Paul’s admissions arrangements are set by the local
authority, and the local authority also decides which pupils should be offered places at the school. As an
academy, we will follow the admission arrangements of the MAT. The academy will still be bound by the
national admissions code, and Admissions Appeals Code.
The current admission arrangements will remain in place for the time being. If the academy wanted to
change its admission arrangements consultation would be required.
Will staff leave?
If the school converts to an academy, all staff currently employed by the local authority will
automatically transfer to the new MAT on their current pay and conditions. Although the academy will
have more freedom to amend those pay and conditions in the future, the Governing Body does not intend to
take such a step in the foreseeable future and in any event, any change to pay and conditions would need to
be consulted upon with staff representatives.
Will School Life change?
We want to continue to become an outstanding school. We therefore do not intend to change daily routines except in
ways which we think will improve the school even more. For students, 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 curriculums and
vary the length of the school day, however, we do not intend to take any such steps at this stage and would
engage with parents/carers, staff and students if we did ever intend to make such changes in the future.
How can I find out more?
A meeting will be held at the school in October. We would encourage you to attend if you have any questions, or simply want to learn more. There is also more information about academies on the DfE website: http://www.education.gov.uk/academies
If you cannot find the information that you are looking for, please email Mrs Winwood (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will try to assist.
How can I make representations?
To respond to this consultation on whether the conversion of the school to academy status should take
Representations can be made in writing to:
The Chair of Governors
C/O St Pauls Primary School,Byatts Grove, Stoke on Trent ST3 2RH
Or by email to:
The closing date for representations to be made is November Thursday November 1st 3pm.