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«The conversion journey A step-by-step guide for schools converting to academy status Resource National College for School Leadership Contents ...»

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The proportion of students entitled to FSM is well below the national average. There are relatively few students from minority ethnic backgrounds. It was designated a grant-maintained school in the 1990s and then became a foundation school.

Factors that motivated the school to become an academy included:

− freedoms in relation to the curriculum − more freedom and autonomy in decision-making − financial autonomy − more flexibility to employ and contract staff What was the conversion process like?

The governing body was heavily involved in the process and associated planning. There were three stages for governors: first, they were given a briefing by the headteacher; second, an analysis of benefits was undertaken and approval given to proceed, and finally there was detailed planning to understand what needed to be done to convert to an academy.

The headteacher and chair of governors had discussions with other schools in the area, including members of the National Grammar School Association, to discuss the pros and cons of becoming an academy. The school also engaged in a period of consultation with staff, parents and carers, and pupils, which worked well.

The school faced a number of challenges in converting to academy status, which were eventually resolved.

These included:

− issues over land ownership and how it would pass back to the academy trust − issues relating to the composition of the governing body and pension liabilities − management of a diverse range of stakeholders

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Background Some 15 years ago, Abbey Infant School and Abbey Junior School were separate establishments, albeit on the same extensive site. There was one afternoon of transition each year for Year 2 pupils. Today the schools form a primary federation with academy status and 630 pupils on roll. Evolution has been steady and sure as part of a shared, focused vision of the headteachers.

There is a single governing body and a leadership structure of part-time executive head, full-time head, three deputies with specific posts and seven teachers with teaching and learning responsibilities. This provides significant capacity to address the development of staff and an opportunity to collaborate at local and national level. Examples included delivery of the National College’s Primary Executive Heads programme and the Middle Leadership Development Programme. The federation has also acted as a lead School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) school and has shared responsibility for training newly qualified teachers.

What was the conversion process like?

Considerable drive and strategic thinking were required. One of the conclusions from the federation’s research into the leadership and management of a federation was ‘move slowly – but don’t stop moving’, and this has been replicated in the process of becoming an academy.

Children are at the centre of the system but the standards they achieve and the progress they make are very much enhanced by the professional development of staff. This crucial, ongoing strand of school development sees the federation having the capacity to give teachers opportunities to observe colleagues teaching in different sectors.

The site now has Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 buildings linked by a 120-metre external corridor ensuring effective transition, communication and promotion of shared working for all. More recently a successful bid has meant that it can design and build a purpose-built sports hall and adjoining rooms to serve wraparound care and community access.

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Background The school is a large, four-form entry primary school in Lincolnshire with over 600 pupils on roll in an area with below-average numbers of pupils on FSM and with learning difficulties. It is a school that Ofsted has judged as having ‘an outstanding reputation for the quality of education and pupil support it provides’. This is a school that never stands still, never rests on its laurels and, with a readiness to embrace change and move forward, it was inevitable that the governing body would seize the opportunities and freedoms of academy status.

What was the conversion process like?

The school began the process of conversion in the latter part of the summer term 2011 and became an academy at the beginning of the autumn term 2011. The headteacher timed the conversion process for the summer holidays so that he would have the capacity to go through the process. The great majority of the process was managed and worked through by the headteacher himself so costs were kept to a minimum.

The headteacher and governing body saw the opportunities that being an academy offered in providing additional specialist teaching and support for the school’s core values that would add greatly to the existing rich curriculum

and support programme. The headteacher reported:

Becoming an academy has given us the freedom, and finances, to employ support staff and provide ongoing professional development to support the school’s core principles.

This is an outstanding school in great part due to the innovative, changing and challenging philosophy on which its curriculum is built. Gaining academy status has allowed the school to continue to achieve good outcomes for its pupils.

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DfE, A guide to becoming an academy. Available at www.education-advisors.com/resource/ a-guide-to-becoming-an-academy-2/ BERR, 2009, Employment rights on the transfer of an undertaking, London, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Available at www.berr.gov.uk/files/file20761.pdf [accessed 30 Oct 2012] Web resources

Companies House:


Department for Education (DfE) academies web pages:


EduBase portal:


Education Funding Agency (EFA):

www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/armslengthbodies/b00199952/educationfundingagency/ the-education-funding-agency Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association (FASNA) www.fasna.org.uk

Independent Academies Association (IAA):


Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO):


Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ):


National College for School Leadership (National College):


Oxford, Cambridge and RSA examinations (OCR):


Teachers’ Pensions (TP):


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Membership of the National College gives access to unrivalled development and networking opportunities, professional support and leadership resources.

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