As you may already be aware, the governing body of New Invention Junior School is applying to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010 and is proposing to join the Primary Learning Trust. 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, and how to comment on the proposals, is set out below.
Will New Invention Junior School definitely become an academy?
The governing body has submitted an application to convert to academy status and is working towards a conversion in September 2024. However, the school is not obligated to become an academy 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 this school/New Invention Infant School, staff and pupils themselves have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals. We have written to all parents and carers and have also invited them to a meeting on Tuesday 1st February at 5PM, to learn more about the proposals to become an academy, or to comment on the proposals.
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 proposals 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 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. We are proposing to become an academy as part of the newly formed Primary Learning Trust. This means that we will be part of an academy group alongside Ryders Hayes School which is currently a single school academy.
What are the benefits of being an academy?
In the school’s opinion 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 appropriate for their pupils
• 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
• 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.
Are there any disadvantages to becoming an academy?
The Primary Learning Trust 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, and in any event, Ryders Hayes School already deals with these matters themselves as an existing academy. Once the school has converted, there is currently no route to revert back to being a maintained school under local authority control – academy conversion is a permanent change. If the school was underperforming in the future, the Secretary of State may have the power to force the school (as an academy) to transfer to a different academy trust. However, in those circumstances, it is likely that the Secretary of State would have the power to intervene even if the school remained a local authority maintained school.
Will the admissions arrangements change?
As a community school, admissions arrangements are set by the local authority, and the local authority also decides which pupils should be offered places at the school in Year 3. As an academy, the Primary Learning Trust will continue with these arrangements, as well as putting in place its own mid-year admission arrangements to decide which pupils should be offered places during the year in accordance with those arrangements. The academy will still be bound by the national School Admissions Code, and School Admission Appeals Code. The current admission arrangements, both for Year 3 admissions and mid-year will remain in place for the time being. The Trust will consult before proposing any changes to mid-year admissions.
Will staff leave?
If the school converts to an academy, all staff currently employed by the 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 for the better, 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 consulted upon with staff representatives. We are proud of our strong staff team and hope that they would all stay and enjoy increased opportunities for training and development.
Will New Invention Junior School change?
We do not intend to change except in ways which we think will improve the school even more. For students, 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 and we would engage with parents/carers, staff and students if we did ever intend to make such changes in the future. It is intended upon conversion to academy status that the name of the school would change to New Invention Learning Academy. In terms of the day to day experience for pupils and parents this is not expected to change.
How can I find out more?
A meeting will be held at the school on Thursday 1st February at 5pm. We would encourage you to attend if you have any questions, or simply want to learn more. There is also more information about academies on the DfE website:
If you can’t find the answer to your question here, or on the DfE website, and cannot attend the meeting on Thursday 1st February, please email firstname.lastname@example.org who will try to assist.
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:
New Invention Junior School, Cannock Road, New Invention, Willenhall, Walsall WV12 5SA
Or by email to:
The closing date for representations to be made is 4PM Monday 4th March 2024.