Parent information evening (7/11/17) academisation consultation – Summary
24 parents were present. The Headteacher (PM) ran through some slides on the rationale behind academisation and the reason for choosing Two Counties, Dick Vasey (DV – CEO of Two Counties) then shared some slides on the Two Counties trust.
Parents then asked questions for approximately 90 minutes, of both PM and DV as well as MG (chair of Governors). Craig Patterson (Assistant Headteacher) was also able to reply to some points raised.
A summary of questions asked:
‘Will joining Two Counties MAT affect the SEND provision at Friesland School’
No. Friesland will still run its SEND provision as it sees fit, there will be no pressure from the MAT (Multi Academy Trust) to change roles or structures. The SEND provision at Friesland will not change.
‘Why Two Counties MAT and not a different local/regional or national trust?’
PM and his leadership team spent a long time evaluating a variety of trusts before recommending Two Counties to Governors as the best fit for Friesland in terms of ethos and finances.
‘What is the benefit to my child of Friesland joining the ‘Two Counties MAT’?’
Friesland is a good school, but it is not an outstanding school. We feel that the staff of Friesland can benefit from collaborating with other schools in the locality who are dealing with similar issues. This collaboration would be a two way process, with Friesland sharing its strengths with other schools whilst others share their strengths and successful strategies with us. Those benefits to the staff will lead to ever improved teaching and learning and will hence benefit our students.
‘Will the best teachers go to work at other schools in the MAT?’
No. There is no benefit to Friesland or Two Counties in us losing our best staff. The very best teachers will continue to work at Friesland, as Head PM will have complete control and discretion over what his staff do and when. Joining a MAT, however, does open up career development opportunities for high performing staff, which offers us a key avenues to develop when it comes to retention: For example staff becoming Specialist Leaders in Education and using CPD time to work with others in the MAT. PM would monitor closely any time Friesland staff spend out of school and its impact on Friesland.
‘Will the best teachers be spending a lot of time supporting other schools rather than in the classroom?’
No. Friesland School has many high quality staff who already support other schools and deliver training for other schools, primarily as part of the local George Spencer Teaching School Alliance. This work would continue, but with perhaps more being done with the MAT but again under PM’s control. Teachers have professional development time built into their contract, joining a MAT would not change that, but does offer the opportunity for that time to be used differently across a range of schools; collaborating and learning from each other.
‘What do we get for our 1% ‘top slice’?’
Two Counties MAT would take 1% of Friesland’s overall budget each year. This money would be used to fund centralised services: payroll and HR (human resources) being the two key ones. This 1% ‘top slice’ is significantly less than the national average for MATs and lower than other local MATs.
‘Who would control Friesland’s budget?’
Our Governors (local governance) would control the budget as they do now. How the school spends its money would not change.
‘What if the school carries forward some of its budget, where would that money go?’
Friesland School would keep the entirety of any ‘carry forward’ as is currently the case.
‘Why should we trust Two Counties to do what they have said tonight?’
Two Counties has no interest in Friesland being anything but a good, or outstanding, school. There is no benefit to the MAT making changes to Friesland that have any adverse effect. Friesland is not a failing school, there is no need for sweeping change. But neither is it an outstanding school, we believe that the advantages of joining the MAT will help to make Friesland outstanding.
‘How many schools in the Two Counties MAT are currently outstanding?’
As things stand there are no outstanding schools in the MAT, although every school which has joined has seen results improve. The goal of the MAT is very much that we help, challenge and support each other to become outstanding schools. Working together to become outstanding schools in an outstanding MAT. This is not a MAT based on an ‘outstanding’ lead school where each member school must do it ‘their way’. Also, it is worth adding here that Friesland does not feel that Derbyshire is offering much assistance or guidance in what to do to become outstanding, and key senior figures from the Local Authority agree with the Headteacher that Two Counties is the right choice for Friesland moving forward at this point in time.
‘Who would make decisions on staffing and appointments?’
The Head and local Governing body, exactly as is the case currently
‘Will the school day change?’
No. Those decisions stay with the Head and local governing body
‘Will the school holidays change?’
No. Term dates will stay with the Head and local Governing body. Holidays will continue to match with the locality and feeder schools.
‘Is this privatisation? Can Two Counties make a profit?’
No. Two Counties MAT is a registered charity and cannot make a profit. Any money it does make or manages to attract or save is put back into the trust.
‘What is Two Counties growth strategy, where will it end up with expansion?’
Two Counties have a growth plan of between 11 and 12 schools as the maximum it would have join. They are committed to a 30min drive time between member schools, there is no desire to expand beyond the immediate locality. The geography of the MAT is one thing that has attracted Friesland to it.
Parents present feedback at the end of the meeting that the discussion had been useful and had given them a greater understanding of the process involved.