Notice of Consultation for Worplesdon Primary School to join the Bright Futures Learning Trust
Dear Parents & Carers,
The governing body of Worplesdon School is consulting with the school community on whether to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010. We are proposing to join Bright Futures Learning Trust. Bright Futures Learning Trust is a local, small and primary only Trust with which Worplesdon has links through our work in recent years with the Woking Confederation family of schools. The governing body is now consulting on whether the school’s conversion to academy status should take place. Further information about what becoming an academy means, our plan for presentation of the proposal, and how to comment on the proposal, is set out below. Please see the video message from our Chair of Governors, and you can also download the attached Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document.
A message from our Chair of Governors, Matthew Woodruff:
Will Worplesdon Primary School become an academy?
The governing body has registered interest with the Regional Schools Commissioner and is using this period of preliminary due diligence and consultation to inform a governing body vote on the decision to make an application to convert. The school is not obligated to become an academy at any stage until the contract between the multi academy trust and the Department for Education (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed. The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of pupils at the school and those with places in September 2021, staff at the school, and pupils themselves have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals.
We are writing now to all parents and carers to invite you to an online meeting on Thursday 17th June at 2pm, or Tuesday 22nd June at 6pm, to learn more about the proposals to become an academy, or to comment on the proposal. We have also held meetings with staff and will be keeping pupils informed throughout the process. Any comments or representations which are made about the proposal will be considered by the governing body before it takes the final decision to convert to academy status. Details of how to provide comments and representations are set out below.
The governing body will not vote to proceed with academy conversion unless they are satisfied that conversion would be in the best interests of the school, taking account of all the legal and practical ramifications.
What is an academy?
An academy is an independent school which is funded by the state. It is independent of the local authority and receives its funding direct from central government. We are proposing to become an academy as part of the Bright Futures Learning Trust. This means that we will be part of an academy group comprising:
- Goldsworth Primary School
- Knaphill Lower School
- Knaphill Primary School, and
- St John’s Primary School
What are the benefits of being an academy?
In the school’s opinion the benefits are numerous:
- Academies are a group of schools who are able to collaborate, share good practice, provide professional development opportunities leading to improved outcomes for children across all schools
- 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 to undertake innovative projects – academies are companies and so have more freedom to undertake innovative projects, such as setting up and utilising trading subsidiaries
- While we anticipate no change, 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 appropriate for their pupils
- While we anticipate no change, Academies can set their own pay and conditions of service for their 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
Are there any disadvantages to becoming an academy?
Bright Futures Learning Trust will be 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. Bright Futures Learning Trust already deals with these matters for the schools that are already within the trust.
Will the admissions arrangements change?
As a community/voluntary controlled school Worplesdon school’s admissions arrangements are currently set by the local authority, and the local authority also decides which pupils should be offered places at the school.
As an academy, the Bright Futures Learning Trust will put in place admission arrangements and decide which pupils should be offered places in accordance with those arrangements. The academy will still however be bound by the national Admissions Code, and Admissions Appeals Code.
The current admission arrangements will remain in place for the time being. If the academy wanted to change its admission arrangements consultation would be required.
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 currently intend to take any such step. Any change to pay and conditions would need to be consulted upon with staff representatives.
Will Worplesdon Primary School change?
The ethos of Bright Futures Learning Trust is closely aligned with Worplesdon School, and we would not expect to see any change in this ethos in the future.
We do not intend to change Worplesdon School except in ways which we think will improve the school even more. For pupils, it is unlikely that they will see much, if any, change in their day-to-day school lives.
Academies do have the power to vary their curriculums and vary the length of the school day, however, it is not intended to take any such steps at this stage. We would engage with parents/carers, staff, and students if we did ever intend to make such changes in the future.
How can I find out more?
A meeting will be held online on Thursday 17th June at 2pm, or Tuesday 22nd June at 6pm. We encourage you to attend if you have any questions, or simply want to learn more. Please email the school office firstname.lastname@example.org in order to book your place.
There is also more information about academies on the DfE (Department for Education) website: http://www.education.gov.uk/academies
If you cannot find the answer to your question here, or on the DfE website, and cannot attend the meeting on Thursday 17th June or Tuesday 22nd June, please email the school office email@example.com who will seek to provide an answer to any questions you may have.
The school will also publish a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on its website, and make available any presentation material provided for the meetings outlined above for those not able to make the dates.
How can I make representations?
To respond to this consultation on whether the conversion of the school to academy status should take place: Representations can be made in writing to the head teacher Mrs O’Brien, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing date for representations to be made is Thursday 8th July 2021.
Thank you for your time reading this letter. We look forward to hearing from you should you wish to make any representations during this consultation.
Chair of Governors, on behalf of the Board