Letter to parents, 1st August 2017
Our school is now part of the Quality First Education Trust
The Quality First Education Trust is a multi-academy trust (MAT) that was established by Belleville Primary School. The Alton has worked with Belleville for some time. Following consultation with parents, carers and staff, The Alton decided to join the Trust and the school converted to academy status on 1stAugust 2017.
The name of the trust reflects a strong belief in high quality teaching. We think there will be many advantages to working as a group (such as sharing ideas, resources and expertise) and that we will be able to have a positive impact on the lives of the children we serve.
We do not intend to change the operation of The Alton as a result of converting to an academy. The children should not notice any change in their day to day provision. There will be no change to our school name or uniform. However, our governance arrangements are now different. Instead of a governing body for The Alton, there is a Board of Trustees for the MAT as a whole. The Board then delegates responsibilities to a local governing body for each of the schools in the Trust.
More information about the trust and the other schools within it can be found at www.q1e.org.uk.
If you would like any further details please feel free to contact Charlotte Meade at the Quality First Education Trust at email@example.com or Ruth Hudson (Headteacher) at The Alton School.
Last year the Government set out their intention that all schools will eventually convert to academy status. Many schools in Wandsworth have already converted to be an academy and as this increases, the services that are available to maintained schools are getting less available and more expensive. We had decided not to pursue academy status until we had secured a ‘Good’ judgement from Ofsted, enabling us to be in a strong position to secure a long term future for the school and for us to choose who we work with.
What is an academy?
Academies are schools that are directly funded by the Department of Education. They are independent of the local authority and receive funding from central Government.
There are many benefits and potential opportunities:
As the funding for academy schools comes directly from the Government, the school receive more funding as none of it is retained by the local authority for their services. Over the next few years the funding that local authorities will receive will be less which will result in less funding for maintained schools.
As academies are independent from the local authority control, they have more freedom to decide how they manage their provision. This would mean that we can make decisions on what is best for your children, rather than follow what Wandsworth think is best for them.
Academy schools have more freedom over the curriculum and how it is taught. They do not have to teach parts of the National Curriculum that they do not consider is appropriate for their pupils.
Academies can alter the pay and conditions of their staff, subject to all the normal employment law protections, so we could potentially provide our staff with better pay and conditions.
Who will we work with?
Since 2015, we have been working with a range of schools in Wandsworth and in other local authorities. In the last two years we have worked more closely with two of those schools, Belleville Primary School and Churchfields Primary School. This partnership has brought us a wide range of support and challenge. We have used ideas from both schools to improve our own practice and shared with them our good ideas. This has developed into a mutually supportive arrangement where there is trust between the schools involved. We believe that formalizing this relationship into a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is a strategic move that would secure The Alton’s continuing improvement. There is also a fourth school involved in this MAT, which is Wix Primary School.
This move provides us with a stable long term future for the school that lets us retain our ethos and integrity, keeping our uniqueness and vision.
Getting support and challenge from trusted partners to continue to improve the school.
Ensuring that improving the quality of teaching and learning remains our priority.
Opportunities for improved staff recruitment, development and retention within a larger organisation.
Potential financial savings through shared resources.
What would stay the same?
There will be very little that would change in the day to day running of The Alton. Keeping our uniqueness is one of the reasons for becoming an academy. We think that the pupils and staff will not notice any differences, except that we may have more resources to spend on teaching and learning. Although we will be able to set our own admissions policy we do not plan to alter it and intend to remain a welcoming and inclusive community school. There will be no changes to our curriculum immediately, but there may be slow changes over time as we exercise our new freedoms.
The governors are committed to retain the school name, The Alton School, and we have no plans to alter our uniform, holiday dates or staffing. I will remain the Headteacher.
There is a Governing Board, with governors drawn from a range of backgrounds in the same way as they are now. We intend to keep our current governors to ensure continuity during this period of conversion.
Academies can set the pay and conditions of staff and alter the term dates of pupils. We are committed to keeping to the national agreements on pay and conditions and all the employment rights of current staff will be protected by TUPE, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. This means that that these employment rights will transfer to the Academy Trust under the same terms and conditions of employment and all pension rights and continuity of service record will be preserved.
The school will be subject to the same cycle and system of Ofsted inspections. The local authority will retain a monitoring role for all schools, including academies.
We are committed to listening to parents and carers, staff and other members of our community. If you have any comments, you are welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Liz Stoyle, Chair of Governors, The Alton School, Danebury Avenue, Roehampton, SW15 4PD.
How can I find out more?
There is more information about MAT academies on the DfE website at www.education.gov.uk/academies
If you wish to discuss this with me, please call the school to make an appointment and I will be happy to meet with you.