What is an academy?

‘Go before we are pushed’, ‘control the journey and destination’ as well as ‘we are not having a Trust come in and tell us what to do, how to operate’. Sound familiar?! These are the main reasons schools are now converting to academy status.

The building blocks to the recent budget announcement were started in 2010 with the coalition inviting Outstanding schools to become academies. Look at the governance changes over the last 2 years with reconstituted GB’s effectively looking like academy Trusts.

May 8 last year changed the face of education for years to come. Then, David Cameron saying in late 2015 ‘more free schools, every school an academy and local authorities running schools a thing of the past’. Now, with the Budget announcement that all schools are expected to be an academy by May 2020, there is no waiting or saying ‘we convert or we stay as we are’. That question has effectively now been made obsolete. It is now, how soon do we convert and who will our partners be? If it is left too late, you will find possible partners have already created or joined Trusts and then you are asking if you can join too. At that point, you might not have the control you are looking for and may be taking direction from a Trust and people you don’t really know.

At the start of converter academies, Single Academy Trusts were the norm. Now, MAT’s are the expected way forward. Local schools creating mini-authorities and solving local issues, school to school support, school to school challenge, economies of scale, every school has strengths and every school has weaknesses. Together, a MAT can be greater than the sum of the parts, offer greater CPD opportunities, caterer progression and put all decision making in the hands of people who know the beating heart of the school, people who know what makes individual children tick and learn, people who know what parents want because they engage with them and people who know what staff look like, all of which LA’s didn’t necessarily know.

An academy is a blank piece of paper, you create the future by filling that piece of paper in. If you want the academy to succeed, it will succeed. You have a vested interest. My own one form entry primary has gone from strength to strength with every child having a netbook, iPad or laptop, staff being recognised and valued for being our greatest asset with private medical insurance for all, bonuses for over and above the expectation, discounts in our wraparound care and many other things, parents listened to. All this is possible for any school wanting to succeed. If we can, you can. We converted over 5 years ago and have risen steadily to now be in the top 100. When people say there is no proof academisation improves outcomes for children, we prove they do

Ask yourselves two questions, as we did:
Do we have the skill set on the SLT and GB to run the two things an academy is – a place of Teaching and Learning and a business?
Can we make people’s lives better?

Then, taking every into account, and especially after the recent budget announcement, know that the journey is as exciting as it is scary but for the first time ever, you will be in control of the future and have no blockers to creating the personalised future that is right for your school.

Lots of considerations I know. So, who am I? I have been a governor for over 23 years, over 19 as Chair at one of the first primary converters in the country. I am a Trust Member there as well as an NLG and for over 5 years I have been MD of a specialist conversion company set up specifically to cut through the urban myths around academies and conversions. We don’t just do the legal work. We hold your hand from the first consideration about academisation to the date of conversion and then beyond. How and why? Because we speak your language. We project manage your conversion, do all the legal work and all the SIMS/FMS activities for a fixed price and bring all our schools experience to you so you can concentrate on the children and teaching and learning. Contact us to discuss your options. We have supported well over 100 schools in their conversions. Look at what we do both for the conversion and afterwards and, more importantly, read what schools say about us. The journey is actually simpler than you may think and what a journey it is!