CONSULTATION ON THE PROPOSAL FOR BRITANNIA VILLAGE PRIMARY SCHOOL
TO CONVERT TO ACADEMY STATUS (PARENTS & CARERS)
The Governing Body has been considering the school’s future plans in a fast changing and increasingly challenging educational landscape. Our priority is to enable the school to continue to provide an excellent education for our children while protecting the school’s role at the heart of our community and retaining its unique qualities and strengths.
As you will be aware, there is an incredible amount of development and additional housing being built in our local area and a new primary school at Royal Wharf is a key part of the plans to cater for more pupils as they move into the area. As we would want to work in close partnership with a school so close in proximity to ours, we recently made a bid to the DFE to set up and run this brand new school and I’m pleased to advise you that our bid was successful. In today’s political climate all new schools have to be Academies, and for us (Britannia Village Primary School) this means that we need to form a MAT (Multi Academy Trust) and convert to an academy ourselves in order to run both schools. The vision is for both schools to work together in a collaborative partnership so that as the new school expands over time it will develop the same ethos and practices as here at Britannia Village.
We are now consulting with parents, carers, pupils, staff, unions and the wider school community. The consultation period will run between Monday 27th March and Friday 28th April.
Parents and carers have received a letter (a copy of which can be found near the bottom of this page) detailing the times we have made available to ask any questions you may have. There will be a brief presentation and then the Headteacher and Chair of Governors will be available to listen to your comments and take questions.
Below we set out the answers to some frequently asked questions which we have prepared to help answer some of the questions we anticipate you may have. There is also a questionnaire for you to complete at the bottom of this page.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What is an academy and what is a multi-academy trust?
An academy is an independent state school that is run by an academy trust. The academy trust enters into an agreement with the Secretary of State for Education that sets out its responsibilities and accountabilities for the effective running of the academy. The academy is funded directly by the Government and is no longer run by the Local Authority. The academy trust is given charitable exemption, which means it must operate much like a charity. A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) has two or more academies as members.
By March 2016 approximately 17% of primary schools in England had become academies and the number continues to rise.
2. What is the proposal?
The proposal is for Britannia Village Primary School to convert to academy status and form a Multi Academy Trust which will be known as the Britannia Education Trust. Britannia Education Trust will be a new trust established by Britannia Village Primary School. The proposed date for the conversion is 1stJune 2017.
Britannia Village Primary School will be joined by a brand new school: Royal Wharf Primary School. The Headteacher is already involved in the early planning stages for Royal Wharf Primary School which is due to open in September 2018.
3. How will the Britannia Education Trust be run?
Our Headteacher, Linda-May Bingham will be the CEO of the trust and the Executive Headteacher of both schools.
The Trust will have a Board of Trustees (also known as Directors) made up of a mixture of current governors plus people with a blend of educational, legal, financial and HR skills and expertise. Their role is to make sure that the Trust academies offer the best possible education for their pupils. They also have a responsibility to make sure that the Trust runs effectively, efficiently and compliantly. There will be parent representation on the Board of Trustees. In time the Board of Trustees will delegate some of its powers to Local Governing Bodies and Committees.
4. How would this proposal benefit our school?
Britannia Village Primary School and its pupils have performed exceptionally well for a number of years and Ofsted has judged the school as Outstanding in its last inspection (May 2013).
The Headteacher and Governing Body are ambitious for the school to improve even further, but we recognise that this will need greater resources and capacity than the school has at present, especially with school budgets becoming ever tighter. The Local Authority cannot provide the support the school needs because funding cuts have reduced its resources.
By working in partnership with another school within a multi academy trust we can make savings and there will be new opportunities for staff development and promotion which will help us to retain staff.
We also want to protect the unique ethos, values and character of the school and have the freedom to run our school in ways best for our community of pupils, staff, parents and carers.
We recognise that it is Government policy to encourage schools to become academies. By choosing to become an academy now Britannia Village Primary School will have greater control over its future.
5. How will the children benefit?
In many ways the children will not notice any immediate difference; they will be in the same uniform, in the same classrooms, with the same teaching staff. Their school will have the same name. We will continue to strive for an excellent education for all our children. However, in time the children may notice changes and improvements in the way that they learn and what they learn, resulting from collaborative innovation in outstanding practice across partner schools, an increased range of extra-curricular activities and the shared resources of the schools within the Trust.
6. What will the impact be on staff?
Currently all staff are employed by the London Borough of Newham. After conversion, all staff will be employed by the new Britannia Education Trust. Staff are legally protected to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions, including pensions.
As an academy, we will have control over the curriculum we choose for our pupils. We will commit time to making long term curriculum plans which cannot be overturned by politicians. School leaders and teachers will have the freedom to design and tailor our creative the curriculum even further.
Eventually there will be greater opportunities for staff promotion which, we anticipate, will enable more staff to remain within the trust schools.
7. Would the school have to change its name, logo or uniform?
Our school would keep its name and our logo and uniform will stay the same.
8. Will pupils still receive free school meals?
There are 3 types of free school meals. Universal free school meals are available to all pupils up to the age of 7 years (end of Year 2) and these will continue for as long as this is government policy. Earnings related free school meals are available for children of any age from in families that qualify for certain benefits. These will also continue. In Newham at the moment meals are also provided free to all other primary pupils as part of the mayor’s promise. The future of these meals is currently not known but they will continue for the remainder of this school year.
9. Will there be any change to the school day, terms or holidays?
There are no plans to change the school day or to vary the school term dates and school holidays from the current pattern. Pupils will still have 190 school days per year. The Trust schools will coordinate their holidays and INSET days to enable joint working and training.
10. Will we get more money as an academy?
As an academy BVPS would receive the same amount of per-pupil funding as it would as a Local Authority maintained school. However, the funding would come directly from the Department for Education (via the Education Funding Agency) and therefore would not be top-sliced by the Local Authority. Special Education Needs and Pupil Premium funding continues to come direct from the Local Authority.
11. How will admissions to the school be affected?
The application process for parents and carers will remain the same. The Trust schools will adopt Newham’s Admissions Policy as happens now. The Local Authority will continue to have responsibility for making sure there are sufficient school places locally and it will coordinate the admissions process for all schools. The application process for parents and carers will remain the same.
12.Will our responsibilities in relation to SEND and exclusions change?
No. Responsibilities as an academy in relation to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and exclusions will be the same as they are now. The Britannia Education Trust will be committed to inclusive education.
13. Can a child with an Education, Health and Care Plan nominate an academy as their school of choice?
Yes. Parents and carers of children with an Education, Health and Care Plan can still nominate an academy as their school of choice and our responsibility to consider their application does not change from now.
14. Are academies inspected by Ofsted?
Ofsted inspects academies in the same way as maintained schools. The performance of all schools and academies will continue to be monitored and if there are signs of deterioration, or other factors are a cause for concern, these could trigger an inspection. However, the Secretary of State has announced that schools or academies judged to be ‘Outstanding’ will no longer be subject to routine school inspection. That does not necessarily mean they will never be inspected.