As you may already be aware, the governing body of Cockwood Primary School applied to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010 and has now been issued with academy orders by the Secretary of State (agreeing to it becoming part of an academy) and is proposing to join the Teignmouth Learning Trust. Further information about what becoming an academy means, and how to comment on the proposals, is set out below.
Will Cockwood Primary School definitely become an Academy?
The governing body has received academy orders from the Secretary of State agreeing for it to become part of an academy and is working towards a conversion in Spring 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 academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of pupils at the school, staff at the school, pupils themselves and other stakeholders have had the opportunity to comment on whether the conversion should take place. We are writing to all interested parties and are also inviting you to a meeting on Thursday 18th January 2018 at 3:45pm or Wednesday 24th January 2018 at 6:30pm at Cockwood Primary School, to learn more about the proposals to become an academy, or to comment on the proposals.
We are also holding 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 academy trust 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.
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.
It is proposed that Cockwood Primary School will become an academy as part of the Teignmouth Learning Trust. This means that the school will be part of an academy group comprising Teignmouth Community College, Mill Lane Primary School Teignmouth, Kenton Primary School and Kenn Church of England Primary School.
What are the benefits of being an academy?
In Cockwood Primary School’s opinion the benefits are numerous:
- 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 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). Since academy conversion there has been no change to staff pay and conditions within the Teignmouth Learning Trust.
- 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?
The Teignmouth Learning Trust (TLT) 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, and in any event, TLT already deals with these matters for Teignmouth Community College and Mill Lane Primary School.
Will the admissions arrangements change?
As a community school, current school admission arrangements are set by the local authority, and the local authority also decides which pupils should be offered places at the schools. As an academy, TLT will put in place admission arrangements, and decide which pupils should be offered places in accordance with those arrangements. 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 academy 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 Cockwood Primary School change?
We do not intend to change our school except in ways which we think will improve it 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, it is not intended to take any such steps at this stage and we 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?
Meetings will be held at Cockwood Primary School as indicated above (18/01/18, 3:45pm and 24/01/18 at 6:30pm).
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 can’t find the answer to your question here, or on the DfE website, and cannot attend the meetings, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org who will try to assist but will not give individual replies. Letters can also be left at the school office addressed to ‘Academy Consultation’. A full reply document to all queries, whether at meetings, from emails or letters, will be available once the consultation period has completed.
To respond to this consultation on whether the school’s academy conversion should take place, representations can be made in writing or by email as above.
The closing date for representations to be made is Friday 2nd February 2018.
Nick Tallamy – Chair of Governors
Lorraine Curry – Headteacher