One of our team has recently sent the attached letter to staff at Kings Heath Boys School
I am one of many parents in the local area who are concerned about the proposed formation of a multi-academy trust in Kings Heath and Moseley.
Many staff are also worried about the proposals, but I appreciate that it can be difficult to voice these concerns while at school, and there is a view being circulated in some quarters that conversion to an MAT is ‘inevitable’.
In light of a great deal of information and mis-information doing the rounds, concerned parents created a Facebook group with 513 members and rising (https://www.facebook.com/grou ps/KingsHeathMoseleySchoolsAsk TheParents/ ) as well as a website kingheathasktheparents .wordpress.com in order to share information and insights. Some staff are also members of this group. I do not speak for the group, but many others have expressed similar worries about the proposals.
One of my greatest concerns relates to staff pay and conditions. See below a recent post I put on the Facebook group about this topic:
As the holidays approach, I would encourage everyone (including school staff in particular) to take a short amount of time to read about MATs, their stated benefits and the risks. When a school converts to an academy, one of the key risks is to staff pay and conditions, a topic addressed in the links below.
While current school leadership may have the best of intentions, these intentions may not be legally ‘future proof’ following conversion to an MAT. Under TUPE, staff pay and conditions are transferred to the new employer (i.e. the MAT), but terms can be altered subsequently if there are deemed to be economic, technical or organisational reasons. This has not been made clear in formal consultation materials I have seen for other schools planning to convert (which is why it is important to read information from a variety of sources, not just materials from the government or the school). Since staff costs account for more than 75% of a school’s expenditure, this may be the obvious place to look if (when) future cuts bite.
With recruitment difficulties in some subjects and many valued staff leaving the profession already, surely we all need to do what we can to protect our dedicated school staff? I don’t want my kids being taught by a succession of lower cost, inexperienced and potentially unqualified staff, supply teachers who may not be around long enough to get to know pupils and their needs, or by iPads.
There seems to be a view among some people that academisation is inevitable. In the face of significant opposition, the government stepped back from its policy of forced academisation, and I understand that other models of collaboration could allow the stated benefits without opening up the risks. Analysis of Department for Education data shows that 16-17% of Birmingham’s primary and secondary schools are sponsor led academies, with 19% of primary schools and 48% of secondary schools converter academies (who converted voluntarily) or free schools. This means that 65% of Birmingham’s primary schools and 35% of secondary schools are NOT academies.
Don’t let’s simply accept that the proposed MAT is the best option for our schools, staff and pupils without asking incisive questions of our schools’ leadership and governing bodies. Please – take an hour or two over the holidays to read about this once-in-a-generation change to our schools, and to write to schools’ governing bodies with your questions or concerns – ask this group for support if you want to see example letters. And please spread the word to other parents.
Is an MAT really the best option for our schools? And is now the right time?
I attach a document containing a blog. Although lengthy and rather histrionic in style, it raises valid points which outline why some of the assurances that are made by schools may not be legally enforceable if the school no longer exists as an individual legal entity as part of an MAT. I have highlighted in yellow some of the key points for ease of reference. Here is a link to the document online:
I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but it is done with the best of intentions as I value our school and its staff extremely highly, and know how great an impact staff can have on a child. I also know how hard teachers work and understand that you might not have had the opportunity to research the implications of the proposed MAT beyond materials provided by the school, which may not give a complete picture.
If you have concerns, you are not alone – there are many parents like me who are keen to do what we can to support school staff. Read up on the subject, talk to your colleagues and seek advice from your union.
Thank you for reading this, and best wishes for a well deserved, relaxing Christmas break.