The Academies Programme & the Sheffield Approach Previously academies have tended to replace schools in need of improvement. Under the Academies Act 2010, all schools are able to become academies. Schools that are ‘performing well’ are able to apply to convert to academy status on their own whilst other schools can apply in partnership with a school that is performing well or under a sponsorship arrangement.
This document is intended to support Governors in considering the implications of academy status and how this relates to Sheffield. Further information is available on the Department for Education website at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/academies.
Sheffield has five ‘asks’ of schools applying to convert to academy status, these are safeguards against some of the risks of the academies programme and are aimed at retaining a local collaborative partnership of schools equitably serving the families and communities of Sheffield. They ask that every school considering a change of status:
agree to deliver city wide services in consultation with the Sheffield “family of schools” and sign up to the City Wide Learning Body, for the benefit of all children across the city;
remain part of the common admissions policy, allowing for fair access and inclusive treatment of all children and young people;
act as the custodian for the land and premises, whoever owns the land, ensuring access to facilities for the children of the city as well as the local community;
welcome community and Local Authority representatives onto the school governing body and allow staff the right to trade union membership;
before making a decision to convert the Governing Body consult thoroughly with parents, prospective parents, the local community and their feeder primary schools on the plans and hold a parental vote.
GENERAL What is an academy?
An academy is a state-funded independent school. It differs from a Community School in the following ways:
Sets its own admissions policy
Employs staff and sets pay & conditions
Responsible for land & buildings
Not linked to the Local Authority
Funded directly from DfE
Required to teach broad and balanced curriculum including English, maths, science and RE – not the national curriculum
Freedom to change lengths of terms and school days
Do Academies carry greater liabilities?
An academy has greater responsibility as noted above. It will be directly liable for matters such as insurance, employment liabilities, support staff pensions, health and safety, and property maintenance (PFI contracts are maintained). However, as noted above, academies receive more funding from central government to help them meet these additional costs.
STAFFING As a Community school…
Staff are employed by the Local Authority and part of national and local pay and conditions agreements. The LA is responsible for pensions, redundancy, and maternity benefits.
As an academy…
If the school converts to an academy, all staff currently employed by the local authority will automatically transfer to the new academy under TUPE regulations.
Academies are not required to follow national or local pay and conditions agreements and may in future choose, through consultation, to change terms and conditions. Governors should note that staff terms and conditions will be protected in law through TUPE regulations on transfer. Many schools choose not to step outside of national staff terms and conditions as any reduction could make the school less desirable in a competitive market place for the very best staff.
Teachers and support staff working within an Academy fall within the scope of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) and the South Yorkshire Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) just as if they were employed in a LA maintained school. This means that their entitlements will continue on transfer. However the Academy will be the employer and responsible for remitting pension contributions and for all other administrative responsibilities that fall to employers under the regulations of the two pension schemes.
South Yorkshire Pensions will complete an actuarial analysis for the LGPS to determine whether or not the employer contribution needs to alter based on the staffing profile for the school. They will also calculate the contribution to the pension deficit which the Academy will need to be responsible for.
The Academy is covered by the ‘Redundancy Modification Order’ (RMO) therefore continuous Local Government service accrued before transfer will be maintained for existing staff although the liability for redundancy costs transfers to the academy from the LA. Continuous Local Government Service will also transfer to other schools or LA’s under the ‘RMO’ therefore staff will not be disadvantaged through transfer to or from an Academy.
Staff entitlement to maternity benefits will transfer for existing staff under TUPE. However, the Academy could choose to implement new terms and conditions for new staff in the same way they can in respect of pay and would need to negotiate this with the staff and trade unions.
Trade union recognition
Rights of trade union recognition do not automatically transfer on conversion however the unions will be seeking assurances from the Academy that they will continue to have such recognition as they currently have with the LA. The LA has offered Academy’s the opportunity to contribute to the funding of trade union facility time through the LA arrangements to avoid the need for separate agreements and increased funding.
Allow staff the right to trade union membership.
FUNDING As an LA maintained school…
Central Government, through the DfE provides Local Authorities (LA) with a sum of money each year known as the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). The LA uses this grant amongst other things to:
Provide a range of support services to schools such as behaviour support, special educational needs services etc.
The LA is responsible for setting its own schools funding formula and for determining each school’s fair share of the total money delegated to schools. After the LA has set aside the necessary DSG funding for support services, the vast majority is given to schools to be spent on things such as staffing, premises, equipment etc
In addition to DSG funding the LA also receives funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which pays for a range of different support services including education welfare, school improvement and asset management.
As an academy…
Academies are funded by the DfE through the Education Funding Agency (EFA) from 1 April 2012. The EFA provides academies with two main sources of funding:
General Annual Grant (GAG): This is the funding which the academy will receive in place of the former delegated budget from the Authority. The academy’s current level of GAG funding will be based on the Authority’s funding formula and should generate a funding settlement that is more or less the same as the previous school budget.
Local Authority Central Spend Equivalent Grant (LACSEG): This is additional funding per pupil which the academy receives from the DfE in order to purchase of discretionary support services, which prior to academy conversion the Authority was responsible for providing. This funding is deducted from the Authority and is calculated using selected centrally retained lines on the Section 251 statement in order to generate a funding rate per pupil. On receipt of this funding, the academy would need to decide how and where to buy the discretionary services that it needs and which are currently supplied by the LA. Statutory services will still continue to be provided free of charge to the academy.
The DfE have indicated that they intend to continue with LACSEG funding over the longer term and are currently reviewing the calculation methodology with a view to change.
DfE On Line Academy Calculator: Currently schools becoming academies can receive extra funding as estimated on the DfE’s on line academy calculator. The current level of additional DfE funding generated by the calculator will not be available after 12/13, so it would be prudent for schools becoming academies to take this into account in their plans. In the long term it would be prudent for academies to budget just for the LACSEG funding mentioned above.
The financial accounting and reporting requirements are considerably different for academies and a number of significantly different financial statements will need to be produced by the academy. In addition the academy’s annual accounts and financial statements will need to audited by independent external auditors.
ADMISSIONS As a Community School…
As a community school, admissions arrangements are set by the local authority. The local authority applies the following criteria for allocating school places at Reception and Year 7 where there are more applicants than places available in a school:
2. Children living in the school’s catchment area and has a sibling at the school;
3. Children living within the school’s catchment area
4. Children will have a brother or sister is on the school’s roll on the date of admission;
5. Children attending a linked primary school (secondary only);
6. Any other children.
The tie breaker is distance from home to school. Exceptional circumstances may be considered within each admission category
As an academy…
Remain part of the common admissions policy, allowing for fair access and inclusive treatment of all children and young people.
cademies continue to be bound by the National Admissions Code and must participate in the LA co-ordinated admissions process. The Governing Body is responsible for setting the admissions arrangements and can consult on changes to the arrangements, such as the oversubscription criteria.
PROPERTY As a Community School…
The Governing Body is responsible for the day-to-day upkeep of the site and buildings and for targeting devolved formula capital budgets. The Local Authority owns the land and buildings and has ultimate responsibility for ensuring accommodation remains sufficient and suitable.
As an academy…
Act as the custodian for the land and premises, whoever owns the land, ensuring access to facilities for the children of the city as well as the local community
ll land and property is transferred from the LA to the academy at conversion on a 125-year lease. PFI contracts are maintained as before. All school assets are transferred at conversion from the LA to the academy trust through an Asset Transfer Agreement. The Governing Body has ultimate responsibility for ensuring accommodation remains sufficient and suitable.
GOVERNANCE As a Community School…
School Governors bring a range of experience and interests from many walks of life. They work closely with others to make informed decisions about school aims and policies. Governors work as a team of volunteers who are responsible for setting the strategies to make sure the school provides a good quality of education. They do this together with the Headteacher, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the school. Every school has a Governing Body. It should include:
Community governors appointed by other members of the Governing Body;
The number of governors may vary depending on the school’s type or size. Governor appointments are for up to four years.
As an academy…
The pre-Academy Governing Body would be responsible for establishing an Academy Trust. The Academy Trust (a charitable company limited by guarantee) would then enter into a funding agreement with the Secretary of State for the running of the academy. The Academy Trust has a strategic role in running the academy and would be responsible for appointing the Governors to the Academy Governing Body (they can equally remove the governors). The key responsibilities are to:
Ensure the quality of educational provision;
Challenge and monitor the performance of the academy;
Manage the Academy Trust’s finances and property;
It would be for the members of the Governing Body of the school to decide and agree, in discussion with the Secretary of State, who among them would wish to be members of the Academy Trust and which of them would wish to be Governors of the Academy Trust. It is possible to be both a member and a Governor.
Academy Governing Bodies become the direct employers of staff, have direct health and safety responsibilities, are the school’s admission authority and are responsible for ensuring that the school undergoes an external financial audit. As the Academy Trust is a charitable company, the Governors would also be directors and charitable Trustees, and would therefore need to comply with obligations under company and charity law.
Governors exist in the usual way under academies however the categories do change (the people may remain the same). Within an academy the following is required:
CONVERSION PROCESS The decision whether to convert is a matter for the Governing Body. Conversion to an academy can take as little as 3 months, but more realistically 6-9 months. A rough sketch of the process is as follows:
Decision to explore
Online application completed and initial interest logged with DfE
Governors take necessary steps to explore implications
GB take decision to consult
Consultation exercise to gather the views of stakeholders
Responses reported to governors
Application to convert
GB decide on whether to submit formal application to DfE
Secretary of State Approval & Academy Order issued
School access conversion grant (£25k)
Transfer of staff (TUPE), land, buildings, contracts from LA / others complete
Funding agreement discussed and submitted to SoS
Funding confirmed by EFA
DfE sig and confirm funding agreement
School completes all necessary conversions to academy
The Local Authority will offer some support around the consultation, fulfilling the ‘asks’, and is involved in the latter stages around land and staff transfer. A diagram outlining the Sheffield approach to the conversion process is attached at Appendix 1.
Before making a decision to convert the Governing Body consult thoroughly with parents, prospective parents, the local community and their feeder primary schools on the plans and hold a parental vote.
APPENDIX 1: SHEFFIELD APPROACH TO ACADEMY CONVERSION
1. OFFER OF MEETING FOR GOVERNING BODY TO EXPLORE CONVERSION
Head and Chair invited to meet Sonia Sharp to understand Sheffield ‘asks’, approach and the citywide position
3. PRE-CONSULTATION MEETING WITH GOVERNORS
Officers from Children’s Commissioning Services attend Governing Body meeting to offer support around consultation and process and a link to the Local Authority
4. CONVERSION TEAM SUPPORT
Engagement with named officers from HR/Legal and other services coordinated by Business Strategy
Governors in position to make informed decision on whether to explore Academy conversion further. Head & Chair aware of the expectations of the City. Local Authority aware of the expectations of the school and the rationale for conversion. Governors supported through process to engage with stakeholders, meet the Sheffield ‘asks’ and have a clear line in to the Local Authority.
SCHOOLS WORKING WITH DFE AND LA TOWARDS ACADEMY CONVERSION