Thank you to those of you who have responded to the academy conversion proposal. We have had 99 responses so far with the following results:
• 64% support the decision to become an academy, 29% aren’t sure and 7% don’t agree.
• 66% agree to being part of a MAT with partnership schools, 27% aren’t sure and 7% don’t agree.
Some common queries and issues are emerging which I thought would be useful to answer and share with you all.
Which schools will form the MAT?
Westgarth Primary, Ings Farm, Lakes Primary, Green Gates, JE Batty Primary, Coatham CofE Primary, St Peter’s CofE Primary in Brotton, Galley Hill & Belmont Primary (both in Guisborough) and New Marske Primary.
Will there be additional performance measures for the school that will increase the pressure put on our children?
No, performance measures will remain the same. We will be judged in exactly the same way as we currently are by OFSTED and the DfE.
Will the school become strict like other local secondary academies are?
No. Our behaviour policy will remain the same. We have no intention of losing the positive, calm and nurturing approach we currently have.
Would Wheatlands teachers be moved to work in, or support other schools, in the MAT?
Wheatlands Primary staff would be employed by the Galileo MAT, just as they are currently employed by Redcar and Cleveland Council. However, they would be contracted to work at Wheatlands and there is absolutely no intention to change this. There may be promotion opportunities within other MAT schools, just as there are in other Local Authority schools and academies now, and staff make their own decisions if applying. Wheatlands Governing Body would continue to recruit and retain its own staff. This has been built into the terms of delegation. We already provide, and benefit from, support with other schools consulting on the formation of the MAT.
Would the focus of the MAT be on supporting some schools at the expense of ours?
The schools proposing to join the MAT have a long history of school to school support already. Most are members of the Landmark Teaching School Alliance, which has delivered joint training, research and collaborative opportunities for many years. Staff at Wheatlands have always hosted student placements and visits to and from other schools to share best practice in a range of curriculum areas. Subject leaders from local schools meet to develop provision and standards in their curriculum areas.
Mrs Walker and Mr Pinkham are both Specialist Leaders of Education across the Landmark Teaching School Alliance who already support other schools.
All schools consulting on the proposal currently have a good or outstanding OFSTED judgement, and work very well together. In fact, schools cannot achieve an outstanding judgment from OFSTED if they are not involved in school to school support.
Would funding be distributed fairly?
At present, our school budget is distributed by the Local Authority, after a top slice is taken for central services. Academies receive their funding directly from central government, and then decide if there are Local Authority or other services that they value and wish to procure.
In a MAT, a contribution is made from each school towards central services, but, in the Galileo model, this is much less than the top slice taken by the Local Authority. A small number of central staff would be employed to deal with the “business” side of the MAT eg legal, financial and premises services, allowing school staff to focus on teaching and learning and the curriculum, and to benefit from economies of scale savings. The agreed salary for the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is within the Headteacher range. Media coverage of highly inflated CEO salaries is linked to very large, commercial, national sponsorship chains, not small, local, primary MATs.
Each school receives its own budget to meet the needs of its own pupils, and not to subsidise other schools.
Each school receives an additional grant from central government to pay for conversions cost, such as legal and financial services.
Would the school lose its individual ethos and identity? Wheatlands is a lovely school with a special ethos and atmosphere.
This is an issue which is very important to myself, staff and governors. The proposed MAT is a completely different model to others seen locally and nationally. It is a “bottom up” rather than “top down” model with the individual schools’ identities being protected in the scheme of delegation and local decisions being made locally by each school’s Governing Body and leadership team. There is not a corporate, or distant body imposing its polices, curriculum and structure upon the schools. The schools themselves are designing the scheme of delegation to protect what we, and our school community, value most.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions, concerns or comments about the proposal. We would ask that debate over such an important issue is not held over social media, and look forward to seeing you at the meeting on November 28th.
Mrs S Fiske