PROPOSED MULTI ACADEMY TRUST
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS FROM STAFF MEETINGS
The three schools proposing to establish a multi academy trust ran a coordinated programme of staff consultation meetings as follows;
Tuesday, April 27th 3.45pm Queen’s Manor Primary School
Wednesday, April 28th 3.45pm Sulivan Primary School
Thursday, April 29th 3.30pm Fulham Primary School
This document is a summary of the questions asked at those meetings, the answers given and where helpful further answers have been added. The acronyms after the question indicate at which meeting a question was asked. The questions have been collated into themed sections.
A. STRATEGY & PLANNING
1. Is there any ambition for the MAT to expand? Would a new school joining have to be at least Good? (QM &S)
The schools expect it will take at least a year for the Trust to settle down. So new schools are unlikely to join until the second year. There is an expectation from the DfE that the Trust will take on other schools and support under-performing schools. However, that will be a decision for the Trust Directors and will be based on compatibility of vision, ethos, vales and approach and the capacity and capability of the Trust to support other schools.
2. Will becoming a MAT make the schools safer from Local Authority closure?
Yes. Only the Secretary of State can close an academy
3. Does the MAT have a name?
4. Can a school leave the MAT?
Yes with the consent of Secretary of State but only to join another MAT
5. Why couldn’t the same impact be achieved through federation? (QM &S)
Federation has two key disadvantages. First it is based on a single Governing Body for all three schools rather than individual Local Governing Bodies within a MAT. Second, it requires an Executive Headteacher to be in charge of the three schools. Both these were unacceptable to the current Governing Bodies.
B. TEACHING, LEARNING & PERFORMANCE
6. How will you prevent the performance of the schools dipping because they are distracted by establishing the MAT? (S)
The Leadership Group of Headteachers are already planning the activities for September 2016 onwards to ensure that the promised benefits are secured. These activities include inset days, joint professional development sessions and opportunities for staff to work together in small partnership groups. The Leadership Group of Headteachers will be meeting weekly to plan and review and are accountable to the MAT Board for securing the promised benefits and the ongoing performance of the schools
7. If schools operate in different ways how can the MAT help share best practice? (F)
The similarities in the way primary schools operate are much greater than the differences so the MAT can make a real difference in sharing bet practice in teaching, learning, curriculum and pupil support. However, each school will retain its unique qualities.
8. How will schools be inspected by Ofsted? (S &F)
Academies are inspected in the same way as maintained schools. The Secretary of State has announced that schools and academies judged to be ‘Outstanding’ will no longer be subject to routine school inspection. The performance of all schools will continue to be monitored and if there are signs of deterioration, or other factors are a cause for concern, these could trigger an inspection. There are plans for MATs to be inspected but it is not clear whether this means all schools are inspected at the same time.
Current policy is that academies are not inspected for the first two years after conversion unless there are causes for concern.
9. Can the MAT board dictate to schools what they must do? (QM)
The working group has developed a detailed scheme of delegation that sets out how plans, proposals and policies are developed and who scrutinises and approves them. Decision-making power is split between Headteachers, Leadership Group, Local Governing Bodies, Trust Committees and the Trust Board.
10. Will all Headteachers have voting rights on the MAT Board? (S)
Headteachers will attend Board meetings but only the CEO will have formal voting rights.
11. Will minutes of Board and LGB meetings be available to staff? (S)
The working group will consider this idea.
12. Can you give an example of a change to the Articles that the Members might change? (S)
The Articles might be change to adjust the composition of the MAT Board
13. How do you appoint Trust Governors on the LGB? (S)
Governors come from a wide range of sources. For example, Parent Governors often continue as Community Governors after their children have left school and other Governors are introduced by current Governors. It is expected that Local Governing Bodies will recommend Trust Governors to the MAT Board who will consider their application
14. How is the Chair of the Trust Board elected? (S)
By majority vote by the Trust Directors
15. Could LDBS be in the majority on the MAT Members? Why do LDBS get 2 members as their minority representation instead of 1? Will there be a Member from each school on the Members? (S & F)
To have a meaningful minority representation LDBS must have two (2) Members as key resolutions can be agreed by only 75% of the Members. If the Chair of the Board is a LDBS Director, it has been agreed that a third Member from the schools will be appointed.
16. Will each school have the right to appoint one Academy Director each? (S)
17. Might a new school joining the Trust change the governance? (S)
Yes. Feedback from other MATs is that once they get to five (5) the governance structure is often reviewed.
18. Will there still be staff Governors? (F)
Yes but it will be up to each Local Governing Body to determine how many.
19. How long is term of office for Members, Directors and Governors? (F)
Four years but is is likely that some Directors will have two or three year terms of office to avoid all Directors being up for re-appointment at the same time.
20. Can you be a Member and Director? (F)
Only the Chair of the Trust Board can be a Member and Director.
21. How will the temporary CEO role work? How will the CEO role impact on that Headteacher’s workload? How will the CEO be chosen? Could the CEO come from outside? How can Headteachers be equal if one is the CEO? Will the CEO’s school have greater influence? (QM, S &F)
The Trust is very much based on all Headteachers being equal and retaining responsibility to run their schools. The Headteachers will form a Trust Leadership Group to plan and manage the programmes to raise standards.
The Trust will, however, be appointing one of the Headteachers as Trust CEO to manage its day-to-day operation. This will be part-time role (perhaps one day per week) for a fixed term alongside the appointee’s current Headteacher role with appropriate support to ensure their school is supported. At the end of the fixed term the Trust will review the arrangements and decide what is best for the next phase of the MAT.
The CEO will not be appointed from outside unless none of the current Headteachers applies for the post and/or is not felt able to fulfil the role.
E. FINANCE & PROPERTY
22. Will the schools continue to receive Local Authority funding for SEND? (QM)
Yes. SEND funding will continue to be paid on the current basis.
23. What impact will National Funding Formula have on the MAT? (F)
The National Funding Formula would have the same impact on schools in the MAT or as Local Authority maintained schools.
24. What happens if a school overspends or gets into deficit? (F)
One of the principles that the Governing Bodies have agreed is that 1) each school is responsible for setting and managing a balanced budget and 2) no funds are diverted between schools.
F. STAFF & EMPLOYMENT
25. Will there be changes to terms & conditions after one (1) year? How long does TUPE last for? (S &QM)
Staff have already seen their pay, terms and conditions change as employees of the Local Authority.
When a school becomes an academy, staff are legally protected to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions. Like any employer, the Trust could propose to change terms and conditions in the future. As now, there are clear policies on consultation with staff on any proposed changes and rules on salary protection. Because the staff will transfer under TUPE they have the protection that their terms and conditions may never be changed to their detriment if the main reason for the change is the TUPE transfer itself.
However, the Trust will seek to adopt the national and local agreements for annual pay awards agreed between unions and employers for teachers and support staff respectively, and will continue to recognise and consult with Trade Unions on pay and conditions.
26. How will Continuity of Service be affected? (QM)
Continuity of service is protected through the transfer of employment. The proposed MAT would recognise the continuity of service of new employees joining the Trust after conversion.
Currently, there is no legal obligation for a Local Authority or another academy trust to recognise continuity of service for all aspects of employment. Importantly, however, your previous service will be recognised by any local authority or academy trust for the purposes of pensions and redundancy payments. The Trust will recognise the continuity of service of new employees joining the Trust.
If you take a job with a school outside the Trust your continuity of service may be broken. Your new employer may treat you as a new starter for the purposes of enhanced sickness and maternity or paternity benefits. So, before accepting any future offer of employment you should check that the new employer would recognise your continuity of service.
27. Will staff performance management change? (S)
No. Staff will continue to be managed as now. The only change is that the Headteacher will now be accountable to the MAT Board
28. Will performance related pay policies remain the same?
Yes. These transfer at the date of conversion.
29. Can you spell out the commitment to matching national or local agreements on pay awards, and T&Cs (S)
The MAT will have an agreement with unions and professional associations to set out their role in negotiation and consultation on future pay awards or change to terms and conditions. It is anticipated that one national or local agreements have been agreed between employers and unions these will be table by the MAT as the basis for MAT agreements.
30. Will we have to sign new contracts? (S)
31. If there is a zero pay award nationally could the MAT give a payrise? (S)
In theory yes but the MAT will be subject to the same financial pressures as maintained schools so it would depend on the affordability.
32. How long will contracts be guaranteed? (F)
Permanent contracts already vary through changes to pay and terms and conditions negotiated between employers and unions. Any future changes will also have to be negotiated.
33. Some staff are approaching retirement with 30+ years of service. How will they be affected? (F)
Conversion to academy status will have no impact on the pension benefits of employees
G. SCHOOL MANAGEMENT
34. What will happen to the SEN units? Will they merge? What is the MAT’s commitment to the SEN unit at QM? (QM &F)
No change. The SEN units will continue to run as they do now, with the Local Authority funding a set number of places. The Governing Bodies are committed to continuing to the provision.