11th October 2017 update
At a meeting held last night at St Phillips School it became clear that the letter sent to parents that the acadamisation of St Phillips was a done deal was incorrect. There is still time to argue for St Phillips to remain within Local Government control.
We also managed to obtain an agreement that the consultation will be extended by at least 28 days. As a consequence there is still time to join in the consultation.
We are also attempting to get the education authority to hold a public meeting - watch this space.
Is St Philips sleepwalking towards being taken over by an Academy Chain?
Is it in the best interests of the school and our children?
As parents of children at St Philip’s, we are worried that our school is about to be turned into an Academy and that this is being done with no genuine consultation. There was a brief meeting just before the summer for parents to discuss this with the IEB (Interim Executive Board) and representatives of DEMAT (the proposed Academy Trust). At that meeting some parents asked if there was anything we could do to halt this process. We were told clearly, “No”. We also asked if there had ever been a point in the past at which we could have halted this process. Again, we were told, “No”. Parents apparently had no choice in the matter at all.
We’re no experts, but the research we have done since that meeting suggests that there certainly was a time when we could have had a meaningful say in this, and that in fact we can still do so now.
Both staff and parents have been led to believe that the issuing of a “Warning Notice” to the school, followed by the appointment of an IEB, meant that Academisation was inevitable and unavoidable. It is for this reason that the IEB (which does not include any representatives from the parent community) made an application for this to happen.
However, the guidance from the Department of Education is clear that while the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) may make an academy order (i.e. force a school to become an academy) when a school has been issued with a warning notice, it does not have to do so, and different methods of intervention can be chosen. The same is also true if an IEB has been put in place – this does not give the RSC the power to make an academy order. If a school fails to comply with a warning notice, the RSC does then have the power to make an academy order but even then they can still opt for a different method of intervention if they wish. While we know a warning notice was served, it is not clear St Philips failed to comply with it. We would hope that parents would have been informed if that was the case. Either way, it seems that the IEB was not compelled to take us down the academisation route and parents should be given an opportunity to have a genuine discussion about whether or not academisation is the road we wish to go down.
If you share our concerns, or just want to hear more about what is going on, please come along to the meeting at the school next Tuesday (10th October) and make sure parent’s voices are heard.
Please see over for some reasons that academisation is not always the best choice for a school in our position to make.
Richard Rippin – email@example.com – 07886 757987
SOME FACTS ABOUT ACADEMIES
Academies bring risk with no evidence of benefits
- Academisation does not improve schools: Local Authorities have a better record in school improvement.
- Academisation is politically risky: a new government could change the system.
- MATs (multi academy trusts) are vulnerable to take overs by other academy chains. They can be gifted to other MATs with no consultation. Academy schools can also become ‘orphan schools’ with no sponsor/MAT willing to support it. There are over 60 schools already in this predicament.
- Many MATs have a board of trustees that is not connected to its member schools and have no elected staff or parent representatives.
- Academisation is forever: there is no way back to local democratic control.
Conditions for our teachers
- Academies are free to set the pay and conditions of staff.
- Academisation has seen the emergence of greater inequality in education. For example, there is a growing disparity between the salaries of headteachers and the CEOs of some MATS; there are over 100 CEOs earning more than £175,000, while the average headteacher pay in secondary school is £80,000 to £120,000, and less for primary schools.
- Academisation is opposed by all the teacher trade unions.
Competition between schools
- Academisation is based on a belief that creating a ‘free market of competing schools’ is a better way to provide education. All the evidence from education systems around the world suggests collaboration is more effective.
- Academies are businesses: education is not a business.
What is needed for an excellent education?
The best way to create a good school, and an inspiring environment for children, is to have excellent teachers, who are secure in their jobs and have a supportive leadership. We now have all of these elements at St Philip’s!
The school does not need to become an Academy!