FAQ on Academies Bill


What will happen to my pay and conditions if my school becomes an Academy.

In the first instance your pay and conditions would remain the same because of the protection of TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)Regulations 2006). However, new employees can be employed on different pay and conditions because academy schools are not in any way bound by the national pay and conditions framework nor any agreements negotiated locally with the Local Authority. Many academies have tried a variety of ways to get existing staff to change their pay and conditions.

What sort of changes to pay and conditions might be proposed?

All sorts of changes can be proposed for example: In some existing academies there is Saturday working, others have longer schools days and longer school years.

In some there is slightly more pay for these extensions to working hours in others not.

Some academies pay less maternity pay than their neighbouring schools. In some cases teachers who have moved to an academy have not had their previous service recognised and have lost all entitlement to maternity pay.

Some continue, at the moment, to keep to the national pay and conditions, but the school has not promised this indefinitely.

 

How short a time could it be before my school becomes an academy?

The government says this can be as little as 3 months – including the summer holiday – see http://www.education.gov.uk/academies/becomeanacademy

You may know nothing about this process until the Governing body has taken the step of voting to become an academy.

Outrageously there is no requirement at all for consultation with either parents or staff before this step is taken. We think this lack of consultation is wrong, but if you want to stop your school becoming an academy you should think about approaching your head and/or teacher governors immediately.

 

My school isn’t called ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – is becoming an academy still a threat?

The Government is concentrating on ‘outstanding’ schools in the first instance and says they are pre-approved to become academies. However any head teacher can register an interest – see link above.

 

Which types of school are under threat of becoming an Academy

All of them – the Government is concentrating in the first instance in “outstanding” primary and secondary schools. But the Government says even special schools will be able to become Academies from Sept 2011.

 

Will my school have a sponsor?

All non –outstanding schools need to have an external sponsor – a private company, charity or university etc. Outstanding schools instead set up a trust made up of some members of the governing body, which act as the sponsor.

 

What happens to support from the local authority

Becoming an Academy would remove all the ways in which LAs support schools, such as their advisory services, SEN support, links to health and social care services, professional development provision and facilitation of school networks. Instead your school will be dependent on advice from a civil servant hundreds of miles away – or through commercial contracts which are expensive and often unresponsive.

 

Will my school get more freedom?

The Government has made much of local authority control over schools and presents Academies as the means to much greater freedom. What it does not say, is that the Government itself would effectively take over the role of the local authority, so if you had a problem, you would have to contact Whitehall rather than the LA education office which already knows the school well. 

 

Will standards rise?

There is no evidence that Academies are leading to rising standards see the summary of research on the NUT website at www.teachers.org.uk/academies

Even if there was evidence that standards in Academies in disadvantaged areas, which were previously so-called "poorly performing" schools, had risen that would not constitute evidence that they would rise yet further in "outstanding” schools.

 But the pressure to get even better results might well lead to damages to your working hours, pay and conditions.

 

Will my school get more money?

The DfE will give a £25,000 grant to schools to assist with the costs associated with the conversion process, but apart from that the Government says that Academies would be funded at a comparable level to maintained schools.

The Government says the school will be better off because it would be able to spend about 7% extra currently spent on its behalf by the Local Authority on support services etc.

However the school will still have to buy these services from somewhere else and local authorities have become much more efficient over the past decades so there will be very little if any money to save. In fact Academy schools could well have higher costs.

Elsewhere in the coalition agreement the Government stresses that public services should benefit from economies of scale – for example they are requiring all prisons to have a shared HR service – but in education they are travelling in completely the opposite direction.

 

Will my school get curriculum freedom?

Every school has the freedom to implement many curriculum innovations already. What prevents schools from doing so now - tests, targets, league tables and OFSTED inspections - will also be constraints on primary Academies, as they will be subject to exactly the same accountability measures and, indeed, will probably be under greater pressure to perform well from Government because of the high profile given to this policy – would the illusion of freedom be worth this additional pressure?

 

Can we try Academy status and come back to the Local Authority if we don’t like it?

NO – the Government has made this a one way process – despite many academies failing Ofsted inspections etc there is no route back to the local authority.

 

What can we do?

All the main teacher unions (NUT, ATL and NASUWT) are opposed to this policy. By working together you can persuade your governors not to go down this route. Talk to other colleagues in your school about the threat that academies propose and agree to present your views to the head and governors. Other materials are being prepared urgently that you can use to give to parents and others to help develop support. Stay in touch with your union and regularly check the campaigns section of our website at www.teachers.org.uk/academies

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