Six schools could share admin and resources in academy shake-up

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the East Anglian Times

Parents received letters describing plans to link Hollesley, Kyson, Melton, Otley and Witnesham primary schools with Farlingaye High School, in Woodbridge, the East Anglian Times reports.

Under proposals, each could become an academy as part of a multi-academy trust (MAT).

All of the primary schools are rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, with Farlingaye judged ‘outstanding’ by inspectors on their last visit.

Hollesley, Kyson, Melton and Otley already belong to Farlingaye’s pyramid of primary schools but could operate collectively as the Deben Learning Trust, retaining their names, uniforms, logos, headteachers and governing bodies, but sharing administration, technical support and resources to ‘reduce costs and improve effectiveness’, while a newly formed trust board oversees individual performance.

Last year, the government shelved plans to force failing schools into becoming academies, but continues to encourage all schools to make the transition and “benefit from the freedom and autonomy that academy status brings”.

A letter to parents read: “From the beginning, it has been clear that all of the representatives have been determined to preserve the independence and unique character of their schools, and to make sure that key decisions on staffing, curriculum and the use of resources will be made so as to benefit the students and families of each individual school, as well as the local community as a whole.

“It should also be noted that there are risks in not becoming a MAT. In the future, any school could be influenced to become part of a broader academy chain. Creating a local MAT, under local direction, offers the best opportunity to sustain vibrant, successful local schools.”

If plans go ahead, each academy will be funded directly by the government, and no longer run by the local authority.

Farlingaye already has academy status and is run by the Farlingaye Academy Trust. Following conversion, all staff would be employed by the MAT, which would control an overall budget and distribute money to each school.

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Staff would be employed under existing terms and conditions.

The consultation period will end on Monday, May 22. The earliest date for conversion would be September 1 this year.

Graham White, of the National Union Teachers, said he supported schools collaborating and sharing good practice, but was opposed to academies.

“With the election approaching, I’m not sure this is good timing, but I expect all schools to be made academies if the Conservatives are returned to power.

“Reducing costs often means jobs being lost. Although no teaching jobs are under threat, I am concerned for support staff.”

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