6th May 2014
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Subject: Please see attached leaflet and questions requiring answers
Please find attached a series of questions we would like to be answered as part of the consultation process. Please confirm that these questions and the answers in full will be shared with all parents/carers via an open and accessible platform, ideally at your consultation evenings.
Please also find attached a leaflet from our parents’/carers’ campaign group which we plan to distribute to school stakeholders.
Hands Off Hove Park School
Some questions to HPS Governing Body:
How will governors be given information from both sides of the debate on academisation? Will they be able to hear different perspectives within the full governing body meetings? If not, why not?
How will parents/carers and students be given information from both sides of the debate?
How will governors be made aware of dissenting voices from staff, parents and pupils, and the level of debate?
When will the vote take place to formally agree this proposal? Will it be an open or secret vote?
If it is an open vote, how will this take into account staff who may want to vote against the views of their employer? How will it take into account parents who may feel voting against the proposal could damage their relationship with their child’s school? How will it take into account community governors who may not want to damage their relationship with the head and/or chair?
If it is a secret vote, who will be overseeing the process and ensuring it is independently adjudicated?
What are the qualifications of each member of the Governing Body to assess relevant information, analyse it and present a fair and balanced account?
What is the process for developing answers to questions raised via the consultation@ email address? Who writes the responses? Who else participates in this process? How is the final wording of any answer approved and released? Is there a commitment to giving an answer to the questions? And with what lead time? Will all questions and answers be published and made accessible to all parents/carers and other school stakeholders? If so, where and when? If not, why not?
What other alternative (to academy status) proposals have been fully considered by the Governing Body as part of the review of HPS – can parents/carers have full access to how these were considered? if not, why not?
When an school becomes an academy, does the local education authority lose the funding that it previously had to support that school? If so, to what extent do the shared services the LEA provides to all its schools suffer as a result of diminished economies of scale?
Given this reduction in the LEA’s shared resources, does this not mean (a) other schools in Brighton will suffer as a result of one school becoming an academy and (b) make the funding of the entire school system less efficient and therefore a waste of government money, increasing the burden on the tax payer?
How does a Multi Academy Trust align with the Government’s aim to provide parent choice given a majority of parents are in favour of LEA-funded schooling? (Source: Guardian/ICM poll, April 2014). If all the schools in the Trust are run by the same executive team, inevitably they will have the same business ethos. Where is the choice for parents in that?
Access to additional funding is often cited as a reason for schools converting to academies. Exactly how much extra funding will the school receive? How much will conversion cost? How much extra will the school have to pay out by opting out of LA services (e.g. on legal cost, insurance, payroll and other)? How does this square with the government’s desire to eliminate the budget deficit?
Currently the governors of the school have a duty towards the school only. With the proposed “family of schools” approach they will they not inevitably be asked to discuss and attend to matters relating to other schools and therefore the net effect is that their focus is taken away from the needs of Hove Park School?
Frank Green, Department for Education Schools Commissioner, wrote on 2 April 2014 to academies in which he states “it is my role to promote the benefits of the academies and free schools programmes among school leaders, local authorities and parents”. Given this clear statement, does this not mean that any advice that the Governing Body receives from the DfE will not be one-sided and balanced?
Given the stated aim of the Governing Body is to present a balanced view to parents and other stakeholders and the DfE advice will be designed to encourage conversion, who will be providing the well-informed, well-funded, professional advice about the drawbacks of the academy scheme?
Do the governors believe having access to a balance of advice on both sides is important?
Does any member of the Governing Body have commercial, familial or other organisational interests in academy schools, academy sponsors or the development of education policy?
Does any member of the Governing Body have any other experience from elsewhere on academy schools?
How does the Governing Body plan to eliminate the potential for their own bias distorting the presentation of arguments to other stakeholders?
How does this impact on the school budget as a whole? Given the pressure on school funds, how did the Governing Body come to justify the spending of this budget on this process ?
How exactly will this proposal benefit pupils currently at the school?
How exactly will it benefit local families and residents?
Explain the exact ‘freedoms’ that come with Academy status and whether the things you envisage doing with those freedoms are things that cannot be done already?