How would this proposal benefit our school?
We believe that working closely together with local schools that share a similar vision, ethos and values and the same commitment to raising standards, would help our school in a number of important ways, including;
Many of our students already progress to the West Lakes Academy for their secondary education. So, sharing and developing good practice in teaching, learning, curriculum and pupil support can only strengthen the children’s progress and achievement through different schools and key stages and prepare them better to succeed throughout secondary school.
That said, we believe in parent choice and accept that not all parents wish for their child to attend West Lakes Academy. This principle will remain. That those children who go to another secondary school still benefit from the education provided in our Multi-Academy Trust stills serves that child well no matter where they go on to study.
How will the children benefit?
In many ways the children will not notice any immediate difference; they will be in the same uniform, in the same classrooms with the same teaching staff. We will continue to strive for an outstanding education for all our children. However, in time the children may notice changes and improvements in the way that they learn, resulting from the greater training opportunities given to teaching staff to innovate and improve the children’s education. In particular, they will benefit from the sharing of excellent practice in teaching and learning between the partner schools. They will also have wider opportunities to learn new skills and experience new activities.
What is an academy and what is a multi‐academy trust?
An academy school is an independent state school that is run by an academy trust. The academy trust enters into an agreement with the Secretary of State for Education that sets out its responsibilities and accountabilities for the effective running of the academy. The academy is funded directly by the Government and is no longer run by the Local Authority. The academy trust is given charitable exemption, which means it must operate much like a charity. A multi‐academy trust (MAT) has two or more academies as members.
Academies were first established in 2000 under the Labour Government and have gathered pace under the current Coalition Government. As of May 2018 there were 7,317 open academies with a further 1,136 preparing to open/convert which represents 34.5% of the entire education estate in England. This percentage continues to rise.
How will the West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust and the schools be run?
The Trust has a Board of up to 12 Trustees/Directors made up of a mixture of sponsor-appointed persons and people with particular skills and expertise to help the Trust run efficiently, effectively and compliantly. At least six (6) of the Directors would need to be approved by the Sponsor organisations. The remaining three comprise an expert in Primary Phase (TBC), a leading educational expert (Professor Mick Waters), and a local business person (TBC).
Although the Board has a number of legal and regulatory powers it delegates powers to Local Governing Bodies and Committees. Local Governing Bodies would continue to have a mixture of representatives from parent, staff and local communities as well as Foundation Governors where applicable.
Head Teachers are accountable for the day to day leadership of their schools within the Scheme of Delegation and for the performance of their school and students
Would the school have to change its name, logo or uniform?
There is no obligation for a school to change its name, except that for legal reasons the school will convert to an academy under West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust. You will retain your strong links with the community. The school has no plans to change our name, logo or uniform.
What will be the impact on staff?
After conversion, all staff will be employed by the West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust. Staff are legally protected to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions, including pensions. Being part of the Trust will also provide greater opportunities for career progression and development.
Will we 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. The whole of the school budget would come direct to the Trust from central Government (called GAG-pooling) and the Trust will delegate some to each school allowing the school to control the spending on resources that focus on teaching and learning. As part of a multi‐academy trust, we will also achieve greater efficiencies through increased buying power and joint commissioning of services; such as school equipment, catering and cleaning.
How will admissions to the school be affected?
The Trust will become the admitting authority for the three schools but each would have its own admissions policy as now. Any future policy changes would need to be clear and fair and in line with the admissions law and the School Admissions Code. The Local Authority will continue to have responsibility for making sure there are sufficient school places locally and it will coordinate the admissions process for all schools. The application process for parents and carers will remain the same.
Does becoming an academy change the relationship with other schools and the community?
No, we will ensure that we continue to be at the heart of our community; collaborating and sharing facilities and expertise with other schools and the wider community.
Will our responsibilities in relation to SEND and exclusions change?
No. Responsibilities as an academy in relation to SEND and exclusions will be just the same as they are now.
Parental Question: Some local academies have failed their local communities, taking money for work which isn't completed and failing to improve outcomes for children, I am concerned that this could happen at Arlecdon.
Many local schools, in fact all local Secondary Schools in this area are now academies, the majority of which are described by OFSTED as Good or Outstanding. There are other Primary Academies in West Cumbria which are also rated positively. This means that Academies aren't necessarily supporting failing schools nor does conversion necessarily lead to the sorts of negative outcomes we have seen in one local establishment.
The local failing Academy was supported by an external Academy chain 'Bright Tribe'. They weren't locally based and as such were not adequately held accountable for the schools in their trust. Arlecdon Primary would not support this Academy model and would only wish to work in a local Multi-Academy Trust which was focused on pupil outcomes and for the long-term benefit of the community. We believe that the West Lakes' MAT is such an Academy. Whilst there are business stakeholders in the system, these reflect local employers and their sole purpose is to ensure high quality education from two years old into adulthood. These sponsors include: Sellafield Ltd, NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) and UCLan (University of Central Lancashire). We believe that these organisations have a reputational, moral and financial obligation to ensure that the Multi-Academy trust is successful in the locality.
MAT Consultation Qu: What were the key drivers for change? How thorough was the optioneering process?
This has been a subject for discussion for several years. The GB looked at 9 different options through this process. The drivers were linked to lack of money from falling rolls, this was having an impact on staff development and outcomes. The GB had a history of taking steps to ensure the quality of provision in the school, the Executive Headship being one example.
MAT Consultation Qu: But the school already shares resources and can continue to do this without becoming an academy?
Yes, but this will only go so far as we work alongside other small, financially stretched schools. As an Academy we will have access to other funding streams and different avenues for CPD.
MAT Consultation Qu: Is there a chance that our money will support other schools in the MAT?
Yes, all the money ( bar some personalised funding) goes into one central pot. However, it is in the interests of the MAT to ensure all schools do well. Our money is already diverted by the County Council to support failing schools. By working as a MAT, the schools will make savings through collaboration.
MAT Consultation Qu: What do we mean by improved outcomes?
Educational outcomes and other wider experiences.
MAT Consultation Qu: What about struggling pupils, those with SEN, will the MAT still care about their well being and achievements as we currently do? Is the current GB strong enough to fight for all children not just the most able?
Yes, all children will continue to receive support as they currently do. Our Head teacher and GB will fight for all pupils as they currently do.
MAT Consultation Qu: What representation will our current GB have in the MAT?
Our Head will have a voice and our Chair. Our current GB will monitor outcomes and have a say in day to day running of the school.
MAT Consultation Qu: Which areas of the budget will be ring fenced?
Personalised funding – SEN, Pupil Premium and Looked After Children and sports funding.
MAT Consultation Qu: Have we looked at projected school numbers?
Yes, it remains at around 4-5 children per year.
MAT Consultation Qu: Do our pupils have to transition to West Lakes’ Academy?
No, but our pupils will have a greater chance of success on application to Year 7. We hope that by being part of the MAT, our pupils will have a better transition period regardless of which secondary they go to.
MAT Consultation Qu: What sorts of staff development will there be?
CPD for teachers, cross-school work to support transition for example.
MAT Consultation Qu: will there be any more changes regarding class structure?
This will depend on pupil numbers. Increased pupils mean that we can run more classes with funding to pay staff.
MAT Consultation Qu: Will Arlecdon continue to offer 30 hour childcare?
We intend to.
MAT Consultation Qu: Will the Council still own the building?
No, the MAT will on a 99-year lease.
MAT Consultation Qu: What amount of money has the MAT already got for provision and support?
We will be looking at this as part of due diligence and the MAT will be looking in turn at our building and offer. Current support from the County Council, only concentrates on ensuring the building is wind and water tight. Our building is in good condition according to the last conditioning survey.
MAT Consultation Qu: Are there plans to change the curriculum?
No, we follow the National Curriculum to ensure a rounded education. We will still be subject to OFSTED inspections and must account for everything we choose to teach.