What exactly is an Academy?
In recent years many schools have either become an academy, are in the process of becoming one, or are considering it as an option for the future.
Following a private visit to school in 2012 by Sir Michael Wilshaw; the Chief Inspector of Schools In England and head of Ofsted; the Governing Body decided to investigate all options. The Governing Body carried out an extensive survey of all stakeholders and in April 2013 Acocks Green Primary School became a standalone Single Academy Trust.
What is a Single Academy Trust?
This is the most popular academy structure, and is usually reserved for schools deemed to be 'outstanding' or 'good' by Ofsted.
It is used by schools who wish to convert by themselves without other schools being involved in their governance. The school can establish its own academy trust to govern the academy (often made up of many of the same individuals who were governors of the school's governing body) and enter into a funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education for the provision of funding to the academy trust.
Single Academy Trusts enjoy the usual freedoms expected from academy status such as autonomy and freedom from local authority control, an ability to set their own terms and conditions for staff, flexibility in the curriculum they provide and the length of the school day. It has also provided our school with an opportunity to provide other schools, in need of help and assistance, with help from our own highly skilled staff - to date, we have deployed our co-ordinators for Maths, SENCO, Literacy and Data analysis in other schools. This sharing of knowledge and expertise continues, and we have also been able to help other schools with issues relating to management and financial management.
With freedom comes a great deal of accountability and Acocks Green Primary school prides itself on implementing rigorous checks and balances in all aspects of school life. The Academy is a charitable trust; limited by guarantee. The Academy has two layers of governance:
- the members, who operate at a strategic level with ultimate control over the direction of the Academy trust
- the governors (often referred to as the directors or trustees) with responsibility for the day-to-day management and operation of the Academy trust
The functions of the members of the Academy Trust include:
- overseeing the achievement of the objectives of the company
- taking part in annual and extraordinary general meetings
- appointing some of the members of the governing body
- signing off the company's financial accounts and annual report
- the power to amend the Articles of the company and, ultimately, to remove the governors/directors
For its part, the Governing Body manages the Academy on behalf of the Academy trust:
- ensure the quality of education provision
- challenge and monitor performance
- manage the trust's finances and property
- employ staff
What other types of Academy Trusts exist?
In general, there are 2 other models:
Where schools wish to convert as part of an umbrella trust they will each convert as a separate academy trust so that each school is set up in its own right, with its own governors, and with its own funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education. Once each school has converted to academy status with its own academy trust they will then establish an umbrella trust formed by key staff from each of the schools. The schools will be joined together by the umbrella trust, which is populated and controlled at member and governor level by key staff from each of the newly established academies. Whilst the umbrella trust has a relationship with each of the academies, it does not have direct management of the schools. This structure is often used by schools that already have a relationship with each other or that have a similar ethos.
The multi-academy trust is the most formalised type of collaborative structure available for academies. Within a multi-academy trust all schools are governed by one academy trust. Unlike the umbrella trust structure, each individual academy does not set up its own academy trust, but each school usually retains its own governing body, which will be represented within the multi-academy trust.
Should you wish to discuss any aspect of being an Academy, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the school office on 0121 706 2165 and we will gladly make an appointment.