We are really keen to engage with the schools in order to have a full and open consultation where we can explore the options, look at the pros and cons and share our views.
Yesterday a letter was sent in hard copy and by email to the governors of Wheelers Lane Primary School and Park Hill School requesting a fair, transparent and detailed consultation with parents, staff and other stakeholders about the proposed MAT. This was signed by several parents, who were also c.c.ed on the email version, as were Roger Godsiff MP and local councillor Martin Straker Welds. We sent the letter urgently to those schools as they had governors’ meetings yesterday, but we also plan to send tailored versions of the letter to the other schools next week.
The letter (and the attachment referred to in the letter) can be found in the Files section at the top of the Facebook group page, and it will also be uploaded to the WordPress site. Any comments are welcome. You are welcome to send this letter yourself (but make sure to tailor it to your school – for example, the PFI issue and article are only relevant to Wheelers Lane Primary and the Technology College). If you would like to add your name to the group letter being sent to your school, please either add your name here or message me. We need to know which school and the year group in which you have children. It would also be useful to have your email address so we can copy you in on the email, but this is not essential.
Kings Heath Primary School have a governors’ meeting on Monday so please let us know by 10.00 on Monday morning if you are a KHPS parent. We are planning to send the letter to other schools by Wednesday 14th December, so please let us know by 6.00pm on Tuesday 13th if you are happy to add your name. You can confirm your interest by emailing KingsHeathAskTheParents@Gmail.com.
And please spread the word!
Please pass this letter, the attachment and print-outs of the documents whose links are below to all Governors in time for the next Governors’ meeting.
RE: Proposed formation of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)
You are no doubt aware that there is considerable concern among parents and staff about the proposals, and also a great deal of incomplete and indeed mis-information circulating. In the interests of sharing information and seeking different insights and perspectives many of us (parents) feel it is imperative that the school conducts itself in an open and transparent manner, and that, if the governing body decides to enter a formal consultation process about the proposed MAT, it is vital that all stakeholders are consulted. The only way that will truly satisfy this need for all concerned will be through an open public meeting where current parents, potential future parents and members of the local community can hear factual pros and cons regarding academy conversion and Multi Academy Trusts and to then vote upon whether they think the governors should proceed or not. Obviously, the final decision rests with governors, but it is imperative that stakeholders’ views are taken on board.
As we are sure you are aware, there are many negative stories in the national press regarding academies and academy chains and we don’t have to look too far afield to see the negative impact that academies can have: Baverstock and Perry Beeches to name but two. An open public meeting would enable you to lay out exactly how the school would benefit and by how much and then balance this against the risks. The meeting will enable you to undertake a thorough consultation with multiple stakeholders and help clarify your own arguments regarding academisation.
Therefore, I urge you to do the following:
- Set the date and venue for an open public consultation.
- Create information packs for parents.
- Distribute information packs two weeks before the open meeting
- Hold the open public consultation.
- Allow stakeholders to vote on how to proceed.
- Governors to then decide how to proceed.
This should look something like this:
- A) On Day 1 of the formal consultation process, make available a transparent, balanced and complete pack of information. This information pack should be published on the school’s website, and also (on the same day) sent to parents and staff via email and hard copy, with text alerts to direct parents and staff to the appropriate section of the website. The information pack should contain (as a minimum):
- A clear explanation of how the consultation process will work, including:
- a) duration of the formal consultation process.
- b) key milestones and dates, e.g. of governors’ meetings, meetings with other STEP schools, deadline for submitting correspondence, etc.
- c) criteria that must be satisfied in order for the school to proceed with the proposal to convert to an MAT.
- d) the mechanisms for sharing information (and alerting parents and staff about new information) and for seeking the views from parents and staff (and how staff will be able to do this candidly).
- e) mechanisms for responses to consultation to be shared with other parents and stakeholders in a timely manner. For example, a commitment to sharing any formal questions posed by stakeholders and the school’s response on the school’s website and via emails to subscribers within 48 hours of receipt.
- f) identity and contact details of any consultants whose services are engaged.
- Specific details of the ways that the STEP schools collaborate currently, including the extent to which there is shared procurement, IT systems, specialist resource (e.g. counsellors/psychologists), use of sites/playing fields, etc. Please make clear the distinction between what is done currently and what it is possible to do under this structure.
- Alternative ways of schools collaborating, and the implications (including what is legally possible and what is not); advantages and risks of each.
- The impact on funding per pupil in the short- and longer term if a school converts to an MAT or other models, including SEND pupils. How will schools maintain savings if budgets continue to be cut?
- The rationale for conversion to a MAT, both generally and for this specific grouping of schools, given the specific circumstances of this school, and a clear explanation of what benefits a MAT would bring that are not possible under the current model, and/or under alternative models (e.g. cooperative models, umbrella trusts, hard and soft federations, memoranda of understanding between schools, etc).
- The proposed timing of converting to an MAT, and the rationale for this, including details of the scope to collaborate more closely with fellow STEP schools before making the legal moves to convert to a MAT.
- Clarification of the circumstances – if any – under which schools would be forced to convert to academies if they choose not to convert at this time, for example if they have a poor Ofsted rating, or financial deficit (if so, please outline how large and sustained this would have to be to trigger forced academisation).
- Implications of academisation for the short, medium and longer term for staff headcount, pay & conditions, including the circumstances under which conditions transferred under TUPE may be changed. Please make clear the distinction between what is currently planned, and what an MAT legally has the freedom to do, both for current staff and staff that would be recruited by the proposed MAT.
- For both this school and other schools in the proposed MAT, historical (last 5 years) and forecast management accounts, and the detailed assumptions underpinning the forecasts.
- An overview of all of the schools in the proposed MAT, including details of the number of pupils, (and % with English as a second language, % SEND, % on free school meals), number of staff (split by teachers, teaching assistants and support staff), age and ownership of the site and buildings, last two Ofsted ratings, academic performance.
- Identity and background of the prospective Executive Head of the proposed MAT, as well as the number, identity and background of prospective Trustees and Members.
- Details of legally enforceable mechanisms to ‘future proof’ the ethos and intentions of a school whose legally identity would cease to exist upon conversion to an MAT. If such mechanisms do not exist, please provide a clear statement to this effect.
- B) One week after distribution of the information pack outlined above, hold a well publicised open meeting for parents, staff and other stakeholders, e.g. prospective parents, local councillors, teaching union representatives (in addition to those among the staff of this school). Details of the meeting should be publicised via email, text message and hard copy letters, at least two weeks before the meeting. The format of the meeting should include speakers presenting both ‘for’ and ‘against’ the proposals. All relevant information should be shared at least one week prior to such a meeting, such that no new written or electronic information is shared at the meeting.
During the consultation period, and following the open meeting, should any parents submit any questions, both the question and the answer should be published on the school website within 48 hours of the question being asked.
In the short time since we received the letter about the proposed MAT we have read a great deal of information from the government, LEA, academics, newspaper articles and other sources. Information from diverse sources may be found at https://kingheathasktheparents.wordpress.com/
Below we list three articles that have stuck in our minds in particular, and we would urge you to read these before you make the decision to enter formal consultation.
- This article dates from February and so refers to the erstwhile policy of forced academisation, but its key points, we believe, remain a key rationale for the government favouring MATs over alternative models of collaboration:
- We attach a document containing a blog. Although lengthy and rather histrionic in style, it raises valid points about which we would like to seek reassurance. We have highlighted in yellow some of the key points for ease of reference. This is a link to the document online:
- Given the PFI issue relating to WLPS, you may be interested to read the following article, this will potentially impact WLPS, WLTC and all other schools.
We rate this school and its hardworking, dedicated staff very highly. We fear for the risks opened up by the irreversible conversion to an MAT, not least to staff pay and conditions. We understand that most (if not all) of the claimed benefits could be achieved by other models, under which the school could maintain its own separate legal identity as well as local accountability. If indeed conversion is inevitable, then we are not convinced that this grouping of schools is a natural fit, with the hugely varying sizes of each school, the mix of primary and secondary schools, and very different starting points in terms of demographics, proportion of SEND pupils, site ownership, to name but a few factors.
We trust you will be supportive of our request for a considered, transparent and balanced discussion about this very complex subject. Given that this letter was written only this morning, time pressures have restricted the number of parents we were able to circulate this email to in advance of the governors’ meeting, but please take it as an indication of the concerns and questions held by many stakeholders.
Please feel free to use the links below to download a copy of the letter sent so you can personalise it, we have highlighted the areas that you may wish to review/edit prior to sending, please remember to include the supporting article.
— Original source of Article – Disidealist Blog – Article