Following a full and detailed discussion between all members of the Governing Body it was agreed that St. Luke’s will not seek Academy status.
Outlined below are the arguments given for Academy status and our response to them.
1) Extra Funding
We would receive £25,000 for the conversion process, but the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust advises that legal fees alone could amount to £50,000.
We could receive an extra 4%-10% in the budget to spend on provision previously offered by the Authority or tendered for by the Authority. However, whilst some savings could be made initially, there is no guarantee that the costs of externally provided services will not increase. Experience of school meals and health service outsourcing has shown that whilst initially costs may have been lower, once tied into a contract costs soon escalated. As a single school we would also have less buying power than an authority.
2) Freedom from Local Authority Control
The Local Authority does not control us. It is central government that has issued innumerable directives over the last few years, which have controlled individual school development. In fact the Local Authority has supported us in effectively implementing many of these directives. Freedom from local authority control actually means freedom from local authority support.
3) Freedom around the delivery of the curriculum
The government has already promised a new slimmed down curriculum for all schools. It intends to continue to test children against the national curriculum. Therefore, schools will not be able to move significantly away from any nationally prescribed curriculum, no matter how slim.
4) Freedom to set their own pay and conditions for staff
Schools already have substantial opportunities to attract good staff through financial incentives. These incentives are incorporated in recruitment and retention allowances, teaching and learning responsibilities, advanced skills teachers’ positions and lots more.
5) Permission to change the lengths of terms and school days
This could cause chaos in any household with children in different schools.
6) All ‘outstanding’ academies will no longer be inspected by Ofsted
All schools should be accountable. Ofsted may not be perfect but at least it ensures schools are always seeking ways to improve and that standards cannot slip.
Therefore, it is felt that Academy status will not bring any additional benefits to the school and most importantly to the children. We also believe we have a moral responsibility to the entire Brighton and Hove community and the education of the children within it. The Academy programme risks undermining the vital support given by the Local Authority to all schools as their services will no longer be sustainable with fewer schools buying in.
Annette Bell Jonathan Cooper
Chair Of Governors Headteacher