It takes months to become an academy, but seven years notice needed to convert back

Francis Gilbert's picture
It may be the case that there's no better aphorism for academy converters than "act in haste, repent at leisure". As more "funding agreements" for academy converters -- schools that are converting to academy status -- come to light, it's becoming increasingly clear that, on average, most schools will need to give the Department for Education seven years notice before they can become maintained schools again. It's a point that the Anti-Academies Alliance have been saying for some time, while other schools are aware of it, such as Thurstable. Sadly, I wasn't actually aware of this today when a representative for the NASUWT told me some very depressing facts about academies.

Once a school has given notice that it wants to become maintained again, it appears that it can be vulnerable to being taken over by a private company, if the Secretary of State is so minded. Furthermore, while pay and conditions may be the same for most staff, the school has the discretion to rip them up overnight and start again. Basically, as the union rep saw it, the Academies drive is about eroding the power of the unions to negotiate fair pay and conditions for staff. He spoke softly but eloquently about how this government doesn't have a mandate for what it's doing it, but is nevertheless pressing ahead with the privatisation of our education system.
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Mon, 28/03/2011 - 15:35

Warwick Mansell's brilliant blog shows also just how restricted academies are. A former head of a CTC said: “In many ways, the principals of these institutions have less freedom to manage their affairs than their counterparts in maintained schools. The governing bodies are effectively stripped of all powers and responsibilities, which are transferred to ULT’s national board hundreds of miles away in Northamptonshire.”
Read Warwick's brilliant blog here (already advertised on the site but it's worth doing it again:

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 28/03/2011 - 16:15

Schools think they will get more money if they convert. The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders has said:

"Early converters have gained financially and will be able to protect budgets".

It's obvious, then, that schools who have converted have benefited financially despite the DfE's assurance that no school will gain a financial advantage. One primary school, featured in the TES, said that it had derived 'clear financial benefits' from conversion.

There is no guaranteed, however, that this sweetener will be available in perpetuity, or for late converters. NUT general secretary has warned that budget cuts have resulted in existing academies facing deficits. In such circumstances LA schools would be better off staying within the LA "family".

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