1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Converting to an academy - any opinions?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by bedingfield, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    I live in an area where the LA has a secondary system of a high school 11-14 and then college 14-18.
    Yesterday my children (one at the high school - Y8 and one at the college - Y11) each came home with letters advising parents of the start of consultations to convert the schools into academies under an 'umbrella partnership trust' along with two other schools (four schools in total). It also states that there may be other schools within the area that will also join this umbrella partnership at a later date. The date for transfer to an academy will be Sept 2012.
    I have started to research about the pros and cons of being an academy, as I want to go to the meetings with as much information as possible. At the moment myself and OH are undecided whether this is a good thing or not. The teacher side of me feels that this could have a major impact on quality of teaching and the staff employed; due to changes in pay and conditions (at the moment I am extremely satisfied with the quality of teaching at both of these schools). However, the parent side thinks that maybe if more funding can be injected into my children's education, then that can only be for the good (can't it?)
    Another thought is; 'if it's not broke, don't fix it'
    Does anyone have any experience of a school becoming an academy? Has it been for the better? Both of my children's schools have been rated as outstanding by OfSTED, but does this warrant them becoming academies?
     
  2. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    I live in an area where the LA has a secondary system of a high school 11-14 and then college 14-18.
    Yesterday my children (one at the high school - Y8 and one at the college - Y11) each came home with letters advising parents of the start of consultations to convert the schools into academies under an 'umbrella partnership trust' along with two other schools (four schools in total). It also states that there may be other schools within the area that will also join this umbrella partnership at a later date. The date for transfer to an academy will be Sept 2012.
    I have started to research about the pros and cons of being an academy, as I want to go to the meetings with as much information as possible. At the moment myself and OH are undecided whether this is a good thing or not. The teacher side of me feels that this could have a major impact on quality of teaching and the staff employed; due to changes in pay and conditions (at the moment I am extremely satisfied with the quality of teaching at both of these schools). However, the parent side thinks that maybe if more funding can be injected into my children's education, then that can only be for the good (can't it?)
    Another thought is; 'if it's not broke, don't fix it'
    Does anyone have any experience of a school becoming an academy? Has it been for the better? Both of my children's schools have been rated as outstanding by OfSTED, but does this warrant them becoming academies?
     
  3. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    I would say that if you know/are fairly sure that it will have a negative impact on the teachers then how will it benefit your children? Surely having good, satisfied, happy teachers working with your children is better for them than having grumpy, hacked off teacher who spend all their time in planning their escape or feeling resentful.

    As you said if it ain't broke don't fix it .
     
  4. I think it will depend a lot on the reasons behind the schools becoming academies. As they are not failing schools I doubt that you'll see much impact straightaway. The unions would like you to believe that becoming an academy means a huge increase in workload and a turbulent time for staff. This may happen in failing schools but I suspect it would anyway, regardless of gaining academy status.
    I work in a school that recently became an academy and, apart from a slight name change, the school has carried on pretty much as usual. The most noticable difference for us is that we now support another school in the group.
     
  5. MrsArmitage

    MrsArmitage Occasional commenter

    The biggest change that I've noticed in the school that I work at is we appear to be completely skint now! Lots and lots of unwanted timetable changes too. And the constant underlying feelings of 'we could get sacked by a load of governors we've never even met'.
     
  6. Well, we are skint, and failing and becoming an academy in Sept. We don't know if there will be massive changes or not, we don't know if we will still have jobs or not.

    I am a mushroom...
     
  7. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Isn't the biggest difference the increase in the HT's salary?
     
  8. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    TBH if that's the only difference, then I am not too worried. The HT at my son's college works hard and is very comitted to the school, so perhaps they deserve a pay rise.
     
  9. wiemaranerlover

    wiemaranerlover New commenter

    For me, I can only observe that as a staff, we are under even more pressure than we were to convert Ds into Cs. So much so, that I've wondered if Academy funding is dependent on C grades... It hasn't had the effect SMT wanted as we are totally demoralised.

    If my daughter was still of school age, I'd resist it all I could.
     
  10. Crowbob

    Crowbob Senior commenter

    And it wouldn't make one jot of difference....
     
  11. I have yet to hear of a school that, once decided on the path to academy, changes their mind. It's a done deal. There is no choice. They will become academies and teacher's pay and conditions will be at the whim of the Head and Governors.
    Another nail in the coffin.
     
  12. wiemaranerlover

    wiemaranerlover New commenter

    I know Crowbob, it's just that I've had the half term from hell since the conversion, and I wouldn't like to think of others having to go through what I, and the rest of the staff, have been though.

    One of the reasons I left industry, and came into teaching, was because I hated working for small businesses. It seems to me that an Academy, is just that, a small business, and subject to the same vagaries of management. A good MD absorbs the stress, s/he doesn't pass it on!
     
  13. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    Thanks to all who have taken the time to comment. I now have some food for thought on this matter.
    Having read posts on this thread and also talking to friends who teach at secondary level, one of my main concerns is the decline in the quality of teaching. If staff become pressured and demoralised then surely that will reflect in their teaching?
    My friends with secondary experience have also said that they would start looking for new jobs immediately if their own schools became academies. I wonder how many good teachers will be lost if this proposal goes ahead?
    Both schools are having meetings in a couple of week's time. I will be there; armed and ready with questions. If I am not satisfied with the answers then I will be emailing my views against conversion to the chair of governors.
     
  14. there is one school I heard of in the east riding (the name escapes me unfortunately- I was talking to one of their teachers at the strike rallys in november) and the students were actually opposed to the change to academy status and had a stall at their summer fair and handed out leaflets and parents opposed it and so the governing body dropped the idea (after getting an independent committee to do a budget analysis they also found out they would be worse off financially after their first year). so it does happen BUT most schools in my two local authorities (Hull and East Riding) seem to be under the impression that its going to be the way every school goes eventually (this has been advised by the LA too) and sometimes its better to jump before you're pushed. its interesting hearing the guidance from those who have already gone through the process.
     
  15. As far as I can see, schools are being financially strong-armed into becoming academies by cutting off funding to Local Authority schools whilst offering extra funding to academies.
    One head of a local school in Essex declared last year that he would do anything to prevent his school becoming an academy. He ratcheted up class sizes, and made swinging cuts, including redundancies. He still couldn't balance the books, and the school is now an academy.
    The heads at my own school spent last year assuring us that they had no intention to seek academy status. They the found that they had a £300 000 hole in the budget (it would have been bigger but for the fact that some astute financial management meant that they could carry some money over from last year's budget). We became an academy in December, to the dissatisfaction of everyone including the governors and the heads. Whilst there have been no changes yet in curriculum, timetable or working conditions, the heads cannot assure us that their successors won't take advantage of their new powers or that financial pressures in the future won't force them to take steps they'd rather avoid.
    Interestingly, we had no trouble converting to academy status despite being merely satisfactory at our last Ofsted. (Has anyone else notice how a word that originally meant 'good enough or fit for purpose' has come to mean 'your teaching is tantamount to child abuse'?) Anyone would think there's a plot to undermine national pay and conditions, the teaching unions, and to surreptitiously privatise state schools...
     
  16. graeme27uk

    graeme27uk New commenter

    A school is a school... academy or not. Students still need to get taught by good teachers.
    Again, its not about raising standards, its about trying to get money into the system and from privatising the schools via the back-door.
    Who gains from this? The government....
    1) less money for dedicated to education,
    2) they can lay the blame for poor results at others' doors
    3) can claim it was their brilliant scheme if it turns out well
    4) don't have to worry about unions fighting with them anymore as they can just pass it to private companies to deal with
    5) complete break down of any government responsibility - more competition, more stressed teachers
    Academies are not a solution, they are just a smoke screen to try and divert attention from a woeful lack of regard for our young people... oh sorry "economical units". (must get the Gove-speak going...).
     
  17. DO NOT DO IT.
    Do not believe any of the hype. It is a slow route to privatisation of education. Unless you want your school grades to rapidly fall and OfSTED to continually be on your back.
    If you want constant changes (even weekly) e.g. timetables, classes, forms etc. etc., top teachers leaving and the gaps being filled in by supply . If you want new head teachers changing everything that worked well in your old school and your school being officially classed as a business, then do so.
    If you have to join schools you will be working on split sites and travelling in your breaks. You will then have to decide in your few remaining minutes before lesson if to go to the toilet or have a drink or set up your lesson. Obviously the latter wins. If you want to you will need a trolley to heave your books and equipment from one site to the other. If you want staff absence to increase and morale to reach an all time low, then do so.
     
  18. As I understand it there are two different routes to becoming an academy, one is for schools in special measures, deemed to be underperfoming or generally with a history of poor results, these become academies through sponsorship, usually with the backing of the LA.
    Schools who are rated outstanding or good with features of outstanding can choose the conversion route which means that they do not take a sponsor but become self governing, therfore hoping to gain more control for themselves over what happens in their school.Perhaps a case of choosing while there is still a choice?
     
  19. janehelen

    janehelen New commenter

    It is largely a one-sided view but the Anti Academies Alliance website gives many reasons why a school should not become an academy. It also has information on schools where the governors have decided not to become academies.

    Often the reason for conversion is the idea that there will be more money but a quick survey of some schools which converted in Suffolk indicated that the schools were having to pay between 2 and 4 times as much for insurance as they were via the local authority, as well as similar scaled up costs for SIMs. There are also the costs of buying in the services which are currently provided by the local authority. No school should even think about converting unless they have fully costed these - they may well find that there is less money to spend.

    Governors also need to have plans in place for occasions when things go badly wrong - there may not be local authority staff on hand to help out.

    Do the governors really have the experience to run a small business? Or will they be spending even more money by employing a business manager?

    Governors may be appointed by the Academy Trust. It is unlikely that an academy will be as responsible to the community or parental concerns and there would be no recourse to the local authority.
     
  20. thank you all for very interesting comments/opinions/ information. i too, have just been presented with a letter stating our daughter's secondary school is also considering converting and can now attend the parents meeting armed and dangerous!!
     

Share This Page