Proposed Conversion to Academy Status

The Governing Body of The Latimer Arts College has researched the models of collaboration available to the College in response to significant changes in the educational landscape. After thorough research which considered many different models, the Governing Body has concluded that it is in the best interests of students, staff and other stakeholders to apply to convert to become an academy and join the Sharnbrook Academy Federation (SAF), a Multi-Academy Trust.

The Governing Body voted in favour of initiating a consultation with our key stakeholders and submitting an application for an academy order to convert the College to an academy and to join SAF. An academy order would confirm whether the Department for Education (DfE) was, in principle, supportive of this option.

 What is an Academy?

An academy is a school that is state-funded and state-governed, but is not under the direct control of the Local Authority (LA) and so has more independence over what it teaches, how it operates and how it spends its budget. All academies are charities and therefore are entirely non-profit making.

What is a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)?

 A MAT is a group of two or more academy schools working in a legally agreed formal collaboration to maintain high educational standards across a number of schools called an academy trust. The MAT is the legal employer for all staff and determines a number of common practices and procedures across the MAT, whilst still encouraging each academy to have its own individual identity. It is proposed that The Latimer Arts College will become an academy as part of the Sharnbrook Academy Federation (SAF) Multi-Academy Trust. This means that the College will be part of an academy group comprising of Great Ouse Primary Academy, Harrold Primary Academy, Oakley Primary Academy, Alfred Street Junior Academy, Lincroft Academy (11 – 16) and Sharnbrook Academy (11-18), with John Gibbard Primary Academy and Wootton Academy Trust: Wootton Upper School and Kimberley Stem College joining in the near future.

Will The Latimer Arts College definitely become an Academy?

Whose decision is it whether or not we become an academy?

The decision to apply to become an academy lies with the College’s Governing Body. The decision to accept or reject the application lies with the DfE and the Regional Schools Commissioner for the area the school is in.

Is everything already decided?

No. Applying, or even having the application accepted in principle, does not automatically mean that The Latimer Arts College will become an academy. The Governing Body has submitted an application to convert to academy status and is working towards a conversion in January 2018. However, the College is not obligated to become an academy until the contract between the academy trust and the DfE (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed. At any point up to the signing of the Funding Agreement, the Governing Body or the DfE could decide to stop the process. The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of students at the College, staff at the College, and students themselves have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals.

What are the benefits of being an Academy within a Multi-Academy Trust?

Why do the Senior Leadership Team and Governing Body think that it is in the best interests of the College to join a MAT? And why now?

PULL Factors:

Converting to an academy and joining SAF would be positive with a number of benefits and improvements because it would:

· Support with building on the achievements of our students to deliver higher standards and increase outcomes for all;

 · Give the flexibility and creativity to design a curriculum that is best for our students that is engaging, relevant and appropriate;

· Allow the freedom to share best practice with other like-minded schools to ensure best practice is shared to all staff;

· Increase staff opportunities to ensure we recruit the highest quality of staff, and provide CPD and career progression opportunities to retain them;

· Enable us to build stronger relationships and partnerships with key local educational organisations; · Enable our quality of education to extend beyond the students who attend The Latimer Arts College because being an academy would allow greater sharing of resources and expertise;

· Provide a unique opportunity to join a progressive MAT;

· Allow for greater buying power to negotiate contracts and services that achieve much better value for money than a school negotiating individually. This means that more of the College’s funding can be focused upon teaching and learning.

PUSH Factors:

There are several factors that are pushing us (and other schools) towards academisation:

 · The number of academies is steadily growing and government policy is likely to be continued;

· Many conversations are taking place amongst schools trying to work out how best to align themselves within formal partnerships;

 · School funding has reduced over the lifetime of the current government. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that funding per student will fall by about 8% over the next couple of years which means that further collaboration and sharing of resources with other schools will become even more important;

· Continuing reductions in Local Authority budgets means schools must find alternative sources of support that the LA is no longer able to provide.

Will The Latimer Arts College change?

We do not intend to change The Latimer Arts College. The educational experience for children would continue to improve through initiatives that are developed or supported by the staff at The Latimer Arts College, supported by the expertise, networking and best practice being part of SAF will bring.

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. Any changes would be ones that we consider will improve the College even more. There are no plans to change the College uniform or any other day-to-day arrangements.

Will my child’s education at The Latimer Arts College be better or worse?

When the Governing Body considered all of the options that are available to The Latimer Arts College, the principle concern was to recommend a strategy that would provide the best outcomes for current and future students. The Governing Body is convinced that converting to an academy and joining SAF will offer our students a better education than that which would be available through any other strategy, including doing nothing and remaining under LA control.

The Latimer Arts College has a strong record of recruiting, developing and retaining high quality staff. As part of SAF, there will be a larger, but still tight-knit, group of staff who can share ideas and collaborate on initiatives. In a tightening financial situation, we will be better placed to make sure our financial and other resources are targeted on improving the education of our students.

Will staff change?

 One of the ‘freedoms’ afforded to academies is the right to set their own terms for staff pay and conditions. Understandably this is, and has always been, an issue of great concern for all teaching and non-teaching staff and their unions.

The Governing Body wants to make it clear that we fully recognise and appreciate the enormous effort and commitment of current staff at The Latimer Arts College in contributing to the College’s success and our students' outcomes. The concerns and welfare of our staff have been very much to the fore throughout the Governing Body’s deliberations.

 It is quite clearly in the best interests of The Latimer Arts College and our students, in particular, to continue to have motivated, contented and engaged staff and this remains a priority for the Governing Body throughout this process. Although academies have the freedom to set their own pay and conditions, SAF has no plans to move away from the present nationally agreed pay and conditions. In any case all current staff at The Latimer Arts College have the right to retain their present posts, as well as conditions of service, should the College become an academy.

 Will the admissions arrangements change?

As a foundation school, The Latimer Arts College already deals with its own admission arrangements. As an academy, the Sharnbrook Academy Federation will deal with admission arrangements and would also still be bound by the national Admissions Code and Admissions Appeals Code.

The current admission arrangements will remain in place. If an academy wanted to change its admission arrangements consultation would be required.