Information regarding Beverley Grammar School’s application for academy status

As you may already be aware, the Governing Body of Beverley Grammar School has applied to become an Academy.

The Governing Body has submitted an application to convert to Academy status and is working towards a conversion in July 2011.  However, the School is not obligated to become an Academy until the contract between the Governing Body and the Department for Education (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed. The Governing Body has not even begun to negotiate the Funding Agreement with the DfE yet.

The Governing Body will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents, staff and students have had opportunity to comment on the proposals. To this end we have consulted parents, held staff meetings and consulted the student body. If you have any further comments on the proposals we would ask that you put them in writing to the Headteacher, who will pass them on to the Governing Body.

Any comments or representations which are made about the proposals will be considered by the Governing Body before a decision is taken to sign the Funding Agreement.

As well as considering representations which parents, carers, pupils and staff wish to make before signing the Funding Agreement, the Governing Body has also retained a specialist law firm to advise it on the conversion process. The Governing Body will not sign the Funding Agreement unless it is 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.

Previous Academies have tended to replace schools which have poor results or otherwise needed to improve. Under the Academies Act 2010, all schools will be able to become Academies, with those schools recently rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted able to convert first.

What are the benefits of becoming an Academy?

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 is appropriate for their pupils;

Academies can set their own pay and conditions of service for 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 subsidaries.

Are there any disadvantages to becoming an Academy?

As an Academy we 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. Indeed, the Governing Body and senior leadership team at Beverley Grammar School believe that it will be possible to obtain the services required more cost effectively than the local authority currently does and so it will be able to make better use of its resources.

The Governing Body does not consider that the staff and pupils will suffer any disadvantages if the school becomes an Academy.

Will the admissions arrangements change?

As a voluntary aided school admissions arrangements are set by the Local Authority, and the Local Authority also decides which pupils should be offered places at the school. As an Academy, we will be in a position to put in place our own admission arrangements, and decide which pupils should be offered places in accordance with those arrangements. The Academy will still be bound by the national Admissions Code, and Admissions Appeals Code.

The Governing Body has no intention of altering the admission arrangements. This includes SEN. There is no intention to alter the nature of the school.

Will staff leave?

If the school converts to an Academy, all staff currently employed by the school/local authority 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 in consultation with staff. Ultimately we wish to retain our existing excellent staff and will do everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our staff the best pay and conditions that we can.

Will Beverley Grammar School change?

We want to continue to be an outstanding school. We therefore do not intend to change Beverley Grammar School except in ways which we think will improve the school even more. For students, it is unlikely that we will see much, if any, change in their day to day life. Academies do have the power to vary their curricula and vary the length of the school day, however, we do not intend 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.

Beverley Grammar School Governors wish to use the finance and flexibilities afforded by Academy status to enable us to retain staffing levels and maintain the school very much as it is in the face of education cuts.

How can I find out more?

There is more information about Academies on the DfE website:

http://www.education.gov.uk/academies

If you cannot find the answer to your question here, or on the DfE website, please email the Headteacher – Mr Chris Goodwin on:

c.goodwin@beverleygrammar.co.uk

Representations can be made on the email address above or in writing to the Headteacher at Beverley Grammar School.

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