Consultation about proposed academy conversion
Chessington School has worked closely with the Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust (ECED) since 2018. ECED is a small, local multi-academy trust that also includes Grey Court and Hollyfield secondary schools. The Governing Body is proposing that Chessington joins ECED, which would involve Chessington becoming an academy.
On this page, you can view the consultation document and a more detailed Q&A document.
The Governing Body would welcome your feedback. The consultation runs until Friday, 9th October 2020 – to have your say, please complete the SurveyMonkey that is available via the button below. Staff and parents have been invited to consultation meetings.
Proposal to become an academy and join Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust (ECED)
The Governing Body of Chessington School is proposing that the school becomes an academy school within the Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust (ECED) with whom it has worked closely since 2018. The Governing Body would welcome your feedback about this proposal before it makes a final decision.
The consultation closes on Friday, 9th October 2020. Please share your views before then.
Rationale for the proposal
Chessington School has worked in partnership with the Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust (“ECED”) since 2017/18. ECED includes two other secondary schools – Grey Court School in Ham, Richmond, and Hollyfield School in Surbiton, Kingston. Since 2018 Mr Ali has been working with senior leaders at ECED in areas such as curriculum development, assessment and tracking of pupil progress, safeguarding and well-being. In September 2019 Mr Ali became the interim Chief Executive of ECED as well as the Headteacher of Chessington. The schools have been working together as a family of schools and have seen benefits already such as staffing, development of curriculum and financial savings.
Joining the trust enables Chessington’s governors and leaders to plan for the future within a secure partnership with Grey Court and Hollyfield. It allows Chessington’s teachers to share best practice that will improve the teaching at all three schools. Extensive joint medium term planning and collaboration in areas such as staffing and training is more difficult while the other schools are within ECED and we are a maintained school within Kingston Council.
Both Grey Court and Hollyfield are high performing schools, with Grey Court having been judged as ‘outstanding’ at its last two Ofsted inspections. We believe that all three schools would benefit from Chessington joining as it provides greater collective staff expertise that can be shared and developed for the benefit of each school and all of our pupils.
Implications of the proposal
If Chessington School does become an academy within the Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust it would:
- Retain the values and ethos that are long established at Chessington School;
- Retain the name ‘Chessington School’;
- Retain the same uniform, school day timings, and continue to set the school year within the context of local schools;
- Retain the admissions criteria used to determine who is offered places; and
- Retain the existing staff (including Mr Ali as Headteacher), who would transfer their employment to ECED.
There would be no change to the ethos and values of Chessington School, nor to our expectations of students and staff. All pupils at the school would continue to attend the school.
Since 2010, government policy has allowed and encouraged the conversion of schools to academy status. Of the approximately 3,300 secondary phase schools in England, just over 2,500 are academies (77%). Within Kingston, Chessington is the only secondary school that is still maintained by Kingston Council while all of the others are academies (nine chose to convert, and one opened directly as a free school academy). Within Richmond the only secondary schools still maintained by Richmond Council are faith schools (one Church of England and one Catholic). Within the parts of Surrey closest to us all secular secondary schools have converted to academy status.
What is an academy?
An academy is an independent state school, funded directly from central government. When a Council maintained school becomes an academy they gain some additional freedoms and responsibilities (such as regarding employment terms and conditions). The more detailed Question and Answer section below, includes more information about the differences between a community school and an academy. Further information about academies is also available on the DfE website (www.education.gov.uk/academies).
How can I have my say?
You can have your say by:
- Completing the online questionnaire available on the school website (www.chessington.kingston.sch.uk) (paper copies are available from the school office);
- Writing to the Headteacher at the school address;
- Attending the meeting for parents that will be held online at 6pm on 28 September 2020 (a GoogleMeet meeting link will be sent to parents in advance).
- Staff at Chessington and ECED as well as other local stakeholders are also being consulted.
The consultation closes on Friday 9 th October 2020. Please share your views before then.
What happens next?
Governors will consider all responses to the consultation before they make a decision about whether to become an academy and join ECED. If the proposal proceeds, it is anticipated that Chessington would become an academy on or after 1st January 2021. If the proposal does not proceed, Chessington would remain a community school maintained by Kingston Council.
Questions and answers
This document has been issued by Chessington School as part of the consultation about whether the school should become an academy within the Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust (ECED).
What is an academy?
1. What is an academy?
An Academy is an independent state school, funded directly from central government rather than through a local authority. A charitable company limited by guarantee (the Academy Trust) is responsible for the academy, and the Academy Trust signs the Funding Agreement (the contract) with the Secretary of State as part of the establishment of the academy.
Legislation requires that an academy has the following characteristics:
- That it offers a balanced and broadly based curriculum;
- That it provides education for pupils of different abilities; and
- That it provides education for pupils who are wholly or mainly drawn from the area in which the school is situated
2. How is an academy different from a community school?
An academy has several differences to a community school, including:
- Admissions – an academy is responsible for setting and implementing its admissions policy and for prioritising applications. An academy must continue to operate within the requirements of the national School Admissions Code in the same way as maintained schools, including full participation in the local coordinated admissions scheme administered by the local authority;
- Land and Buildings – the land and buildings of the school are leased to the Academy Trust for 125 years at a peppercorn rent from the Local Authority and the academy would be responsible for the land and buildings (and reliant on the Secretary of State for capital funding);
- Curriculum – an academy has to offer a broad and balanced curriculum for pupils of differing abilities, including Maths, English, and Science, but it does not have to follow the National Curriculum; the Funding Agreement requires that an academy teaches Religious Education;
- Employment – the Academy Trust becomes the employer of school staff, rather than the local authority. Academies also have freedom to set new terms and conditions for future staff;
- Funding – the academy receives its existing school budget and also its share of the funding that is retained by the local authority for maintained schools; and
- Governance – ECED (which is a charitable company) would be responsible for all the schools within the Trust. Local Governing Bodies provide local governance, and support and challenge to the Headteacher and leadership team, and include parents and staff.
Some of these responsibilities are already held by Foundation and Voluntary-Aided Schools Voluntary-Aided schools, for instance, are already responsible for their admissions, own their land and buildings (often through a Diocese) and employ their staff directly.
3. Does Ofsted inspect academies?
Yes, in exactly the same way as for maintained schools.
4. How can the Secretary of State intervene in an academy?
The Secretary of State has the ability to terminate the Funding Agreement for each of the schools within the Academy Trust if specified situations, predominantly if a school is eligible for ‘special measures’ or ‘requires significant improvement’ following an Ofsted inspection, student performance unacceptably low, there has been a serious breakdown in the governance or management of the academy, or the safety of pupils or staff is threatened. In this situation the Secretary of State would be able to enter into a Funding Agreement with another Academy Trust to take over the governance and management of the academy.
5. How would the academy be governed?
Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust (ECED) is already an Academy Trust. The Academy Trust signs a Funding Agreement (the contract) with the Secretary of State for each school within the Academy Trust.
ECED has a Board of Trustees that is legally responsible for all of the schools within the Trust (technically they are the legal Governing Body for each school).
Each school within ECED has a Local Governing Body to provide local governance, and support and challenge to the Headteacher and leadership team, and include parents and staff.
An Academy Trust also has a small number of Members. These Members have a similar role to ‘shareholders’ in a private company limited by shares (although there is no dividend), with the ability to appoint some of the Trustees.
Chessington School has been an Associate Member of ECED since spring 2018.
6. How would parents become part of the Local Governing Body?
The same process as for the school currently. When there is a vacancy, applications are sought from the parents at the school, which may outline particular skill sets that would be useful to the Local Governing Body. If there are the same number or fewer applications than vacancies then those individuals who applied are appointed. If there are more applications than vacancies, the parents vote to decide who becomes a governor.
7. Do academies receive extra funding?
Academies receive their funding direct from the Government rather than via their local authority. The budget is calculated in the same way as now, with a few (fairly small) technical changes for areas such as rates. The academy financial year runs from September to August.
8. Would there be changes to the number of pupils admitted to Chessington?
9. Would there be changes to the admissions criteria?
10. What are the safeguards for vulnerable pupils?
Under the terms of the Funding Agreement (which is the contract between ECED and the Secretary of State), an academy has to act in exactly the same way as a maintained school in relation to Special Education Needs, behaviour, and exclusions.
11. Who is responsible for deciding if a student needs an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan?
The local authority would retain the legal responsibility for leading this process, and for determining whether Chessington is named on the EHCP.
Land and buildings
12. What happens to the land occupied by Chessington?
As a community school, the land is currently owned by Kingston Council, who would grant a lease to ECED. The local authority would retain the freehold title to the land. ECED would become responsible for the land and buildings in accordance with the lease.
13. How does an academy access capital funding?
Academies receive some capital funding, called Devolved Formula Capital, according to the same methodology as maintained schools. This funding is provided directly to the academy. Whereas Chessington School currently relies on the local authority for funding for more substantial works, whether these are for repair/maintenance or for improvements, academies are generally reliant on central government.
What could change in the future?
14. What could change in the future?
If Chessington remains as a maintained school, changes in the future could originate from central government, the Kingston Council, or the Governing Body. The Governing Body already has the powers to propose changes to the school day or year, curriculum, or how the budget is spent. Kingston Council could propose changes to the admissions number and policy, and support staff terms and conditions.
If Chessington converts to academy status, ECED could propose changes in the future. Many of these changes would require formal consultation with parents and / or staff and their Unions. The Trustees could decide some changes, while others would require the agreement of the Secretary of State. At all times, and on all issues, the Trustees’ are required to act in the best interests of the academy.
15. Who is being consulted?
The consultation document has been issued to parents and staff at Chessington, Kingston Council, local schools, the local MP, and the Trade Unions recognised by Kingston Council.
16. Will the Governors listen to the views from the consultation?
Yes, every response will be considered. Responses might include arguments for and against the proposal. The responses will help the Governing Body consider the relevant issues before it makes a decision about whether to proceed.