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Academy Primary Schools

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My kids go to a really nice village school.  The school has been rated Good by OFSTED for the whole time they've been there and we as a family are really happy with it.

 

In October/November last year, the head teacher handed in his resignation and will be leaving at Easter, citing family reasons as the deciding factor, which is fair enough.  The governors appeared to drag their feet a little before advertising for his replacement, but it now emerges that they are pushing through with an application to join an academy trust.

 

I'm fairly open minded about the situation but some parents are a bit disgruntled and perceive the application has been done in a slightly underhand way.  There has certainly not been any sort of consultation process or any information given to the parents, not that there necessarily has to be, as I understand it.

 

I've heard some horror stories though, of Local Authority Maintained schools being taken over by an Academy Trust and the experienced teachers effectively being shown the door and replaced with NQTs which has had a detrimental effect on the children's education.

 

I'd be interested if anyone else has experience of going through the process of moving from a maintained school to an academy.  What was good?  What was bad? Would they do it again etc etc

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31 minutes ago, nnfox said:

My kids go to a really nice village school.  The school has been rated Good by OFSTED for the whole time they've been there and we as a family are really happy with it.

 

In October/November last year, the head teacher handed in his resignation and will be leaving at Easter, citing family reasons as the deciding factor, which is fair enough.  The governors appeared to drag their feet a little before advertising for his replacement, but it now emerges that they are pushing through with an application to join an academy trust.

 

I'm fairly open minded about the situation but some parents are a bit disgruntled and perceive the application has been done in a slightly underhand way.  There has certainly not been any sort of consultation process or any information given to the parents, not that there necessarily has to be, as I understand it.

 

I've heard some horror stories though, of Local Authority Maintained schools being taken over by an Academy Trust and the experienced teachers effectively being shown the door and replaced with NQTs which has had a detrimental effect on the children's education.

 

I'd be interested if anyone else has experience of going through the process of moving from a maintained school to an academy.  What was good?  What was bad? Would they do it again etc etc

My son's school changed to an Academy in his first year. It's shit.

All the nice old staff have gone and we never know what teacher he is having from day to day. My oldest class has designated teacher but they seem to mix and match every week who they have. Half the time it just seems to be random parents getting admin jobs and somehow being in charge of classes  The turnover of staff is a joke. 5 left at Christmas. It is rated good by Ofsted but not sure how. I'd move them in a heartbeat but they don't want to because of their friends.

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2 hours ago, nnfox said:

My kids go to a really nice village school.  The school has been rated Good by OFSTED for the whole time they've been there and we as a family are really happy with it.

 

In October/November last year, the head teacher handed in his resignation and will be leaving at Easter, citing family reasons as the deciding factor, which is fair enough.  The governors appeared to drag their feet a little before advertising for his replacement, but it now emerges that they are pushing through with an application to join an academy trust.

 

I'm fairly open minded about the situation but some parents are a bit disgruntled and perceive the application has been done in a slightly underhand way.  There has certainly not been any sort of consultation process or any information given to the parents, not that there necessarily has to be, as I understand it.

 

I've heard some horror stories though, of Local Authority Maintained schools being taken over by an Academy Trust and the experienced teachers effectively being shown the door and replaced with NQTs which has had a detrimental effect on the children's education.

 

I'd be interested if anyone else has experience of going through the process of moving from a maintained school to an academy.  What was good?  What was bad? Would they do it again etc etc

It really does depend on which Trust they are applying to join, some are great, some so-so and some frankly dreadful.  Like schools really!

 

Some have a blueprint for leadership structures, ways of teaching, behaviour management, the curriculum etc and apply it to all schools that they take over.  Others are more flexible and recognise that all communities are different so allow the school’s individual character to show through.

 

Generally I would say that where a school is struggling the blueprint approach can be successful and produce rapid improvements but where this has been tried with schools that are already good it can lead to confusion amongst students/parents and a loss of morale amongst staff.

 

In the worst cases there have been cases where Trusts in financial trouble have taken on financially secure schools and used them to subsidise struggling ones.  This happened a couple of years ago in Wakefield (iirc) and the consequences were fairly disastrous.

 

If you and other parents are concerned then the first step would be to write to the Chair of Governors outlining your concerns and requesting an open meeting involving parents, staff, governors, the LA and representatives of the Trust.  If that doesn’t go anywhere then contact your local County Councillor as they are still responsible for the school at the moment.  Another option is to contact the Regional Schools Commissioner for the East Midlands; his name is John Edwards and contact details should be easy enough to find online.

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As someone who has worked in schools (though it was over 10 years ago) and has friends who are teachers. It depends entirely on the leadership of the school and trust. Could be good or could be bad.

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10 hours ago, Guesty said:

As someone who has worked in schools (though it was over 10 years ago) and has friends who are teachers. It depends entirely on the leadership of the school and trust. Could be good or could be bad.

Totally agree, it’s all about leadership regardless of the school structure/set up.

 

Theres a newish Academy Secondary school near us which had a terrible reputation and ‘poor’ OFSTED on its first inspection.

 

They put one of these ‘super heads’ in there and within 18 months the school was transformed and now parents actually want to send their kids there.

 

Like anything in life, political parties, business, football clubs, they’re only as good as their leader.

 

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My son's school used to be fab, then it became an academy and went downhill pretty quickly. But the head teacher left at the same time, and I believe the decline had everything to do with her departure rather than the change of the school to an academy. 

I also believe that the input of the parents has a greater influence on the child and their education than the school. 

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6 hours ago, FoxesDeb said:

My son's school used to be fab, then it became an academy and went downhill pretty quickly. But the head teacher left at the same time, and I believe the decline had everything to do with her departure rather than the change of the school to an academy. 

I also believe that the input of the parents has a greater influence on the child and their education than the school. 


Is it in Wigston by any chance? 

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4 minutes ago, FoxesDeb said:

Yes ;)


Our youngest is in Year 6 at that school, and have not long been appointed a settle teacher. Up until early December time they were having a different teacher every day, and I know that the exams they take at the end of the year aren’t massively important at this stage in their lives, but I really was beginning to worry about them when they didn’t appoint a permanent teacher for them. 

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I only have a subjective opinion as my kids have grown into adults, but it seems to me that any public organisation that acquires an independent trust status will suffer as a result because the trusts objective is to cut funding and save money. Certainly been the case in the NHS trusts that I have had experience of.

 

 

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I love the way the schools have sold the idea of the changes to academies by focusing on the word “academy” as if it is a huge change where everything will be wonderful. 

 

Basically it just means they will be taking control of everything, or a group or trust will.

 

The problem is suddenly you have head masters, or school people taking control of something they don’t have the experience in. They are basically now running a business, rather than running a school and so their skills need to change and many aren’t prepared for that.

 

Our local school changed to an academy at the time another one did in the area, so then two schools are competing for places. 
 

This competition means winners and losers and one of them suddenly saw a huge drop off, yet they didn’t decrease staff numbers, leading to a situation where it virtually went bust. Another trust then had to come into rescue it. But in the meantime these non business people running it just carry on thinking something magic will happen. 

 

I could see it happening from the start. People with no experience of running a business running a business. And if your kid is there at that point you end up suffering because they have to cut back on everything.

 

The head was a pretty good head master, but obviously a very poor business man.

 

The public have been sold a dog. The amount of people going around “thinking” an academy would be good because they are told it is by the school and they all follow and get excited by the word academy thinking it’s something special.

 

So basically an academy just means the school will be responsible for how it spends the money it gets in from the government. They get so much per kid they take in and they then decide what they do. 

 

For me it just showed how gullible the public were in our area, and how poor the people were that ran the school. And for me it was so easy to spot. I got it straight away. When I saw the other school was doing the same thing and there would be competition for places I knew it would go wrong. You don’t want winners and losers in your area schooling wise, you just need winners.

 

 

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Most schools are going to Academy's sadly so you'll be hard done to find a school not part of a trust in due time. Mainly to give them a bit more leeway in regards to cuts (in terms of pupil spending now vs ten years where the amount has hardly gone up but the number of students has risen dramatically) to be able to do things such as get unqualified teachers teaching  certain lessons.

 

I was a school teacher for 4 years. Likelihood is that the school wont be affected much in the first year but give it 3 or 4 years and the best or oldest serving staff tend to leave once they realise they don't want to jump through hoops for an academy trust. It is all a load of bollux really. 

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On ‎19‎/‎01‎/‎2020 at 10:21, Izzy said:

Totally agree, it’s all about leadership regardless of the school structure/set up.

 

Theres a newish Academy Secondary school near us which had a terrible reputation and ‘poor’ OFSTED on its first inspection.

 

They put one of these ‘super heads’ in there and within 18 months the school was transformed and now parents actually want to send their kids there.

 

Like anything in life, political parties, business, football clubs, they’re only as good as their leader.

 

Sort of the same scenario with the primary school we have applied to get our son in to. The headmaster who has taken over since it became an academy is amazing and in less than 2 years has turned the whole school around. No guarantees it stays that way if he were to go, but the academy trust it is part of seem to know what they are doing.

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As someone said it's teachers running a business. And some teachers go straight from school to uni and back to school. They have a unique sheltered view of some things.

 

I know someone who works for a council who told me a story about a new academy. This school had been told all the good things about becoming an academy but didn't understand all the negatives. 

 

Within a few months of becoming an academy the school had a problem where a sewage pipe burst under the school field and it started getting sewage on it. The school phoned up the council to tell them they needed to come and fix it and clear up the mess. Not realising that now they're an academy it's their job to fix and pay for. They hadn't budgeted for it and couldn't really afford it.

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7 hours ago, Guesty said:

As someone said it's teachers running a business. And some teachers go straight from school to uni and back to school. They have a unique sheltered view of some things.

 

I know someone who works for a council who told me a story about a new academy. This school had been told all the good things about becoming an academy but didn't understand all the negatives. 

 

Within a few months of becoming an academy the school had a problem where a sewage pipe burst under the school field and it started getting sewage on it. The school phoned up the council to tell them they needed to come and fix it and clear up the mess. Not realising that now they're an academy it's their job to fix and pay for. They hadn't budgeted for it and couldn't really afford it.

There are a few stories like this but they tend to be stand alone academies rather than those in a Trust.  The example you quote will probably have been covered by insurance anyway which an academy will arrange themselves rather than through the council.

 

I have been involved in education for over 30 years including time as a Headteacher and I now work with a lot of Academy Leaders so I do know what I am talking about here.  Since about 1988 schools have had total control over about 90% of their funding with the other 10% being kept by the council for central services such as HR, advisory services etc.  The difference now is that the extra 10% is kept by the trust to pay for the services that the council used to provide.  Some Trusts do this better and more cost effectively than the Council, others don’t.

 

One big difference is that Academies can set their own rates of pay which is why you hear of CEOs on >£200k which would be impossible in a Council school due to having to stick to national pay scales.

 

Academies also have other freedoms such as not having to follow the National Curriculum but they virtually all do anyway.

 

I am no great supporter of the Academy system and left Headship before my school was forced to convert but in the same way as there are some poor Academy chains there are some appallingly incompetent Local Authorities.  I know, I worked for one.

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