Academy Conversion Consultation
The consultation regarding the proposal for Thorns Primary School to join Excelsior Multi-Academy Trust will run from Monday 20th March 2023 until Wednesday 26th April 2023.
Meeting for parents: Wednesday 29th March 9.00am
Meeting for staff: Monday 24th April 3.30pm
Meeting for Governors: Monday 5th December 5.30pm
20th March 2023
Proposed Conversion to Academy Status
I am writing to advise you that Thorns Primary School governing body has applied to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010 and is proposing to join Excelsior Multi Academy Trust. In accordance with the requirements of the Academies Act 2010, the governing body is consulting on whether the school's academy conversion should take place. Further information about what becoming an academy means, and how to comment on the proposals, is set out below.
Will Thorns Primary School definitely become an Academy?
The governing body has submitted an application to convert to academy status and is working towards a conversion in September 2023. 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, and pupils themselves have had the opportunity to comment on whether the school's academy conversion should take place. We are inviting all parents to a meeting on Wednesday 29th March at 9am, to learn more about the proposals to become an academy, or to comment on the proposals.
We have also held 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 Thorns Primary School will become an academy as part of Excelsior Multi Academy Trust. This means that the school will be part of an academy group comprising Colmers Farm Primary School, Green Meadow Primary School, Heath Mount Primary School, Highters Heath Primary School, Parkfield Community School and Turves Green Primary School.
What are the benefits of being an academy?
In the 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) and so can provide staff with better pay and conditions than previously
- 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?
Excelsior Multi Academy Trust 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, Excelsior MAT already deals with these matters for Colmers Farm Primary School, Green Meadow Primary School, Heath Mount Primary School, Highters Heath Primary School, Parkfield Community School and Turves Green Primary School.
Will the admissions arrangements change?
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 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 Thorns Primary change?
We do not intend to change Thorns Primary except in ways which we think will improve the school 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 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?
A meeting will be held at the school on Wednesday 29th March at 9am. 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 meeting on 29th March 2023, please email email@example.com and we will try to assist.
How can I make representations?
To respond to this consultation on whether the school's academy conversion should take place, representations can be made in writing to:
Thorns Primary School Governing Body
Or by email to:
firstname.lastname@example.org FAO The Governing Body
The closing date for representations to be made is 26th April 2023