Update: 22nd February - You can see our report on the recent academy consultation report here
As you may already be aware, the Management Committee of Roman Fields has applied to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010. The Management Committee 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 proposal is set out below.
Will Roman Fields definitely become an academy?
The Management Committee has submitted an application to convert to academy status and is working towards a conversion on 1st April, 2021. However, the school is not obliged to become an academy until the contract between the academy trust and the Department for Education (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed. The Management Committee 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 also invited them to an online meeting on 19th January at 4pm 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 Management Committee before a decision is taken to sign the Funding Agreement. Details of how to provide comments and representations are set out below.
The Management Committee 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 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.
Previously, academies have tended to replace schools which have poorer results or otherwise needed to improve. Under the Academies Act 2010, all schools are able to become academies. As Roman Fields is an outstanding school, we can apply without being part of a group of schools and without a sponsor.
What are the benefits of being an academy?
- Academies are independent of the 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) and so can provide staff with better pay and conditions than previously
- Academies have more freedoms 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, we 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 arrangement change?
As a community school, admissions arrangements are set by the local authority, and the local authority decides which pupils should be offered places at the school. As an academy, we will be in a position to put in place our own 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 the 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 school/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 Management Committee 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 Roman Fields Change?
We want to continue to be an outstanding school. We therefore do not intend to change Roman Fields except in ways which we think will improve the school even more. For students, it is unlikely that they will not 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?
There is 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, then please email email@example.com who will try and assist.