CONSULTATION ON A PROPOSAL TO EITHER REMAIN PART OF THE LOCAL AUTHORITY MAINTAINED SECTOR OR ESTABLISH A MULTI-ACADEMY TRUST AND CONVERT TO ACADEMY STATUS
You may be aware that the Government is encouraging all schools to consider converting to Academy status. The Governing Boards of the Wyvern Federation and Henry Fawcett Primary School have been considering the future plans of its schools in a changing and challenging educational landscape. The schools are currently maintained by the London Borough of Lambeth.
Below you can find a copy of all documents that have been sent out, as well as a frequently asked question section which will be updated:
- Consultation letter for Parents/Carers
- Consultation Extension Letter
- Response Form (Word Version)
- Response Form (Electronic Version)
Please only complete one response form per person. Responses can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, submitted via the electronic version, or posted to the school office at the addresses below:
- Ashmole Primary School, Ashmole Street, London, SW8 1NT
- Henry Fawcett Primary School, Bowling Green Street, London, SE11 5BZ
- Herbert Morrison Primary School, Hartington Road, London, SW8 2HP
- Vauxhall Primary School, Vauxhall Street, London, SE11 5LG
- Wyvil Upper School, 1 Trenchold Street, London, SW8 1GG
- Wyvil Lower School, Wyvil Road, London, SW8 2TJ
- Wyvil Autism Resource Base, 22 Kennington Park Gardens, London, SE11 4AX
Frequently asked questions
What is an Academy?
Academies are charitable companies funded by the Government to provide state education free of charge. Multi academy trusts bring together several academies under a single board of trustees, who are accountable for the academies within the Trust. They are funded at the same level as schools maintained by local authorities; and have the same responsibilities for children with special educational needs, pupils in receipt of pupil premium and for admissions. On conversion, some current governors may become Trustees of the new Trust.
Does joining an academy trust mean that everything will change?
No, the schools are outstanding schools and there is no need for change as a result of a change in school status. There will be no changes to staffing in the schools and all pupils remain on roll. The schools’ names, term dates, school times, uniform will not change. We do not expect parents and children to notice any difference in their day to day experience of school.
Will support still be available for children with additional needs?
Yes. Academies are bound by the same requirements as all maintained schools to meet the needs of individual children.
Who decides the admissions policy?
The Trust will become the admission authority for each school although Trustees will decide the policy for the schools. We do not expect to make any changes and admissions are governed by the School Admissions Code of Practice.
What changes will there be to staffing, particularly leadership?
If the schools decide to form a Trust, all staff will be employed by the new MAT. Staff are legally protected to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions, including pensions. Staff will be provided further information on how they are affected.
There are no proposals to change any staffing in either school as part of the conversion. Trustees and governors will continue to work with staff, ensuring that they feel happy and supported and hope that they will invest in working within the Trust for the long term.
Will the schools get more money as an academy?
Academies receive the same amount of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the Local Authority as a maintained school. They also receive additional funding in the form of the Education Services Grant to cover the responsibilities of the MAT, in place of London Borough of Lambeth, and to cover the additional costs of academy status. The whole of the school budget would come direct to the school from central Government allowing the school to control the whole of their spending. As part of a multi-academy trust, the schools may also achieve greater efficiencies through increased buying power and joint commissioning of services; such as school equipment, catering and cleaning.
What information is there about the other schools in the proposed Trust?
Will academies be exempt from the Ofsted inspection process?
No. Academies are inspected in the same way as maintained schools. Each school will continue to be inspected individually. The performance of all schools will continue to be monitored and the schools may be subject an inspection through the usual process.
Will there be any changes to the curriculum?
Academies are required to have a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For pupils below Key Stage 1 (i.e. reception and nursery), academies are required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
The curriculum must include:
- English, maths and science;
- Religious Education; and
- Relationships education and health education.
Academies are required to take part in the same pupil assessment arrangements and to report on the achievement and attainment of pupils in the same way as all other state- funded schools.
The regulations that place requirements on maintained schools do not directly apply to academies. General employment law applies to academies in the same way as to other organisations. Teachers must be suitably qualified. The Academy Trust has responsibility for setting pay and conditions. We will employ all staff on national terms and conditions so there is no change for staff.
All teachers employed at an academy have access to the Teachers Pensions Scheme and all other employees at an academy have access to the Local Government Pension Scheme.
Academies should be fully inclusive local schools and in common with all other schools have a clear legal duty to do their best to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Academies are required to provide education for pupils wholly or mainly drawn from the area in which the academy is situated. Academies must have admission arrangements that clearly set out how children will be admitted, including the criteria that will be applied if there are more applications than available places. Academies are required to provide education for pupils of different abilities (i.e. they may not select pupils by ability).
What is the conversion process?
The conversion process begins with an application to the Secretary of State for Education for an academy order. This is a permission to convert – and confirms that the Government is happy for us to go ahead. Beyond that there are several key steps to make the change, including:
- Consulting parents and staff
- Establishing the Academy Trust and agreeing a contract with the Secretary of State to run both schools as academies within the Trust as state-maintained schools, free to all pupils and students;
- Consulting staff and their unions on the transfer to a new employer;
- Working with the owners of our sites to ensure that they can be used by the Academy;
- Transferring contracts for goods and services.
- A grant from the DfE will support the costs incurred, including expertise in managing the process so that your child’s education is not disrupted.
Why are Governors looking into this now?
Considering how the school operates is one of the duties of Governance as outlined in:
Governance Handbook 2020 - Strategic Leadership that sets and champions vision, ethos and strategy through:
•An informed decision on whether to form, join or grow a group of schools which is underpinned by robust due diligence and an awareness of the need to review the effectiveness of governance structures and process if and when the size, scale and complexity of the organisation changes.
School Governance Regulations 2013 - In exercising their functions, the governing body shall:
a)Act with integrity, objectivity and honesty, and in the best interests of the school.
b)Be open about the decisions they make and the actions they take, and in particular shall be prepared to explain their decisions and actions to interested parties.
This may require governors to provide strong leadership and make difficult decisions, including about their future role (London Borough of Lambeth).
Governors last carried out a review of school status in 2017, and are revisiting it in the discharge of their duties.
Are governors meant to make these sorts of decisions?
Governors are required to ensure that stability and sustainability of the schools they have responsibility for. Currently there are a number of challenges to schools as a result of falling birth rate, migration and impact of the pandemic. The Local Authority has recommended that governors make potential partnerships part of the schools’ annual vision and strategy discussion.
What are the different forms of collaboration and partnership?
- Partnership - Schools retain separate governance but enter into a Memorandum of Understanding in order to share capacity for common goals.
- Non-Statutory/Soft-Federation - Schools retain separate governance but commit to a fixed-term agreement with the intention of shared working practices and efficiencies.
- Hard-Federation - Schools fall under a single governing board, which requires formal public consultation and is a statutory arrangement, approved by the schools governing boards.
- Multi-Academy Trust - Schools are governed by a charitable Trust, which continues to be State-funded. The change of status requires a legal process and approval by the Regional Schools Commissioner.
What happens to staff contracts if there is a change in status of the school from Local Authority to MAT?
When an existing school converts to an academy, TUPE law will apply and all existing employees at the maintained school will automatically transfer to become employees of the Academy Trust, on their same contractual terms and conditions. The employees who transfer across have special protections, including the right to not be dismissed or have their terms and conditions changed as a result of the transfer. Transfer arrangements do not, however, apply to people who are not employees (e.g. supply staff, self employed peripatetic staff, or consultants.)
Will the governors extend the consultation period?
Governors are considering this suggestion and will respond by Friday 1stOctober 2021.
Will the governors offer more meetings with stakeholders?
Yes. Following the first round of meetings, further meetings will be offered and invitations will be issued by Friday 1st October 2021.
If the Governors were to decide to form a MAT, who would be the Trustees?
Identifying potential Trustees would be part of the process of conversion and the required skills and expertise would need to be considered carefully, including the issue of stakeholder representation.
What would happen to the school buildings if there was a change of school status?
Currently, as Foundation schools, Wyvil and Vauxhall are owned by the Governing Board (since 2008 and 2012). The Local Authority has proposed an Academy template lease for the Wyvil Upper School site and are still to propose a lease for the Autism Resource Base. The Local Authority owns Ashmole, Henry Fawcett and Herbert Morrison Schools and would transfer via a lease if a MAT was formed. Capital programmes and maintenance are the responsibility of whoever owns or leases the building.
What is the view of the Local Authority?
The Local Authority supports all schools regardless of their status through the Lambeth Schools’ Partnership. Decisions about the status of schools are taken by the Governing Board in the best interests of the pupils. The Local Authority has been advised of the decision to consider the status of the schools and the Governors welcome dialogue from officers and elected members.
Will Governors listen to the views of parents and other stakeholders?
Yes. The views of parents and other stakeholders are very important in order that Governors are able to discharge their duties.