Academy Consultation Q & A

Does this change my terms and conditions for the school and my job?

All staff are entitled when a school converts to an academy to transfer to the MAT under their existing employment terms and conditions. Employees’ terms and conditions are legally protected by TUPE ( Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment.)

Will I have to re-apply for my job?

Staff will not have to reapply for their jobs.

Does this mean being given a new contract?

You will be transferred under your existing terms and conditions meaning you will keep your contract.

Will staffing levels be reduced throughout the school?

There is no intention to reduce staffing levels. The governors are committed to ensuring that children are supported by high quality staff with staffing levels that reflect the complexity of pupils’ needs.

Having worked and  being committed to linden Lodge for 19yrs I would like my current contract/ terms of conditions to not be affected as a disadvantage by the change of status – can this be guaranteed?

You would transfer to the MAT on your existing terms and conditions. Staff terms and conditions are legally protected by TUPE.

Sent out just prior to holiday period, parents may miss, could you consider extension to deadline  and draw parents attention to it

We think this is important as we want to hear views from as many of our stakeholders as possible. We have therefore decided to extend the consultation period to November 24th 2017.

Are there financial implications and threats of staff redundancies if we choose not to become a MAT?

One of the reasons for considering joining a MAT is for the financial benefits that we think will come from this arrangement. If we choose not to become a MAT we will have less freedom to pay for our services and supplies. We think that if we do not join a MAT our costs will rise as a standalone school and this will place us with fewer resources to spend on resources and staffing.

How would the school leadership team operate within a larger MAT?

The school would retain its own leadership team and structures would be formed to create opportunities from leaders to work together on raising standards and improvements which they would then implement in their own schools.

What are the key changes that will affect the students?

Day to day we do not see many changes from their pupils’ perspective apart from the opportunity for better resources and staff who are benefitting from wider career development opportunities and training. We think this will lead to better conditions for staff which will then impact positively on pupils.

Is a MAT better than the current operation for the most important, yet most vulnerable group, our children, the students?

You have to remember that change is often very stressful for children but particularly those with SEN.

The purpose of considering conversion to a MAT is to protect the interests of our children and their families in the future by securing a sustainable and high quality provision. We want to be able to develop and get stronger with improved resources and the scope to attract and retain high quality staff to work with our pupils and meet their highly specialist needs.

I am reluctant to agree to linden Lodge becoming a MAT with the limited amount of information we have been given.  I would like the opportunity for verbal discussion with staff and families, possibly even some families who have recently left the school, who may be more knowledgeable about whether independence or working within a MAT is best for the pupils, families and staff

We would like to encourage discussion and debate as we know that Linden Lodge is a very specialist school with a longstanding history. In addition to the consultation we are offering meetings for parents to come to the school and find out more together with the invitation to talk to the Headteacher or other staff at any point.

We are holding two meetings one in the day time and one in the evening:

Monday 13 November at 6.30 - 7.3 0 pm

Wednesday 15 November at 10.30 - 11.30 am

Will Linden Lodge retain its own Governing Body?

The school would retain its current governing body but it would become known as the Local Governing Body. The MAT would delegate the day to day running of the school to the governing body. There would be a process known as the Scheme of delegation where the responsibilities of the Headteacher and Local Governing Body would be set out.

Where specifically is the additional “capital funding” coming from that we are unable to access currently as a LA school?

Academies are able to apply directly to the DfE for capital grants not open to Local Authority schools. This funding can be used for larger repairs or improvements to the premises and facilities.

Have the changes in compliance / legal and moving operational support and school improvement services away from the LA been costed?  How will this be funded?

We have assessed the cost of LA services over a period of time and we consider that we would have the freedom to buy services from a range of providers to get the best value for money and best quality services for the school. This would enable us to secure high quality and cost effective services and ensure there are more resources to spend on pupils.

Will the school have to take over any additional liabilities WRT and LPGS & Teachers Pensions?

The school as an academy would continue to ensure contributions are made to Teachers’ Pensions and to retain the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Support staff retain their Local Government Pension Scheme and the MAT becomes an LGPS employing authority and the pension scheme remains as it is under the Local Authority.

What are the new training and professional development pathways that Southfields can offer school staff?

Southfields has a longstanding reputation for high quality workforce training and professional development for teachers and support staff. Staff have already accessed a number of training pathways through Southfields which include middle management qualifications, NVQ courses and coaching and mentoring opportunities. It is partly Southfields’ expertise in training and career pathways that makes it an attractive partner. In our view staff will have many more training opportunities than we can provide as a single special school. Staff would also have access to teacher training opportunities.

Many other special schools are building MATs with other special schools (Richard Cloudesly – Bridge School. LIFT Partnership Multi Academy Trust etc) Has consideration been given to forming  a MAT with other Wandsworth Special Schools? 

The governors have discussed and considered a range of different MATs and drawn on the experience of other schools who have converted. A key priority for the governing body and Senior leaders is to consider MATs which will create the best chance for the school of retaining and building on its Sensory specialism and unique identity and also in joining with a large organisation to give staff wider career and training opportunities.

Why are we building a MAT with a mainstream school?

We think that joining with a mainstream school will provide a number of advantages:

The MAT would be based on a partnership model where each partner would appreciate the differing and unique qualities and ways of working . By joining a special and mainstream school the schools retain their distinct character and curriculum and competition is avoided. In addition Southfields although mainstream shares the same ethos as Linden Lodge and for 25 years has been a strong partner by hosting the Rowan Hearing Support Centre, part of Wandsworth Sensory Support Service. By joining the provisions we would be able to create a sensory specialist continuum of provision for sensory impaired pupils and their families consisting of a VI special school, mainstream resource centre and sensory support service. This would enable us to build on our sensory specialism in new and creative ways. In recent years Southfields Academy has been our school improvement partner and made a significant contribution on the post OFSTED task group. This contribution and impact was acknowledged in the last OFSTED report. Although Southfields Academy is a mainstream school it has a highly inclusive philosophy and significant provision for SEND pupils. The principal is an NLE (National Leader in Education) and works at a strategic level with a number of outstanding special schools in the UK.

Does Southfields as Mainstream school have the skills and capacity to support and challenge Linden Lodge, how has this been assessed?

The OFSTED team recorded the impact that Southfields’s support had had on school improvement. This impact has been on many different levels :

  •  Providing the expertise and advice to enable the school to improve its HR systems which had been an OFSTED area requiring improvement
  • Coaching a newly formed middle management group and providing advice on accreditation so that the school could introduce more accreditation pathways
  •  Providing advice on Health and Safety including emergency procedures and acting as a critical friend
  • Coaching staff within the school over many years
  • Providing challenge in the quality of teaching and learning also endorsed by OFSTED

What will the MAT be named?   “Southfields Multi Academy Trust” implies a take-over of Linden Lodge, other equal party MATs are “Partnership Trusts”, e.g. Howard Partnership Trust (Surrey)

The school will retain its name as the governing body and school leaders are proud of Linden Lodge’s rich traditions and history and want it to retain its identity. The MAT model proposed is one of a partnership not takeover.

Will business /operational support functions (IT, Finance, premises etc) be merged between  schools  to create a single “service” to reduce costs?

The governing body of each school will be responsible for day to day functions and along with the Headteacher will ensure that the school continues to run these. It is likely however that the MAT will bring expertise and extra capacity to make these business functions run effectively for the benefit of all.

Request to extend consultation period – not enough time to consider

The governing body agree and this has been extended to November 24th.

Should Linden Lodge form part of a MAT, what will this entail for WSSS? Will the MAT incorporate the Service or will it continue to be maintained by Wandsworth LA and then brought in by Linden Lodge?

Our plan is for Linden Lodge as now to join a MAT with the Service and Hearing Support Centres integrated into the organisation.

Will the admission criteria for potential students to linden still stipulate that students must have a visual impairment?

One of our priorities is to ensure that Linden Lodge retains its specialism as one of the UK’s leading providers of education for pupils with visual impairment and multi-sensory impairment.

Will staff be consulted should another school look to join the MAT? Will there be criteria that other schools have to fulfil (i.e. a demonstrative interest in sensory impairment) in order to be eligible to join the MAT?

The MAT would want to ensure that all schools joining had a shared ethos and value system. The strategy around other schools joining would be determined by the MAT Board.

Should Linden Lodge join a MAT, where will this leave its affiliation with St George’s Special Schools Therapy Team?  Will Linden have the ability to commission therapies or medical services from elsewhere /employ therapies staff directly?

As now the governing body will want to ensure that pupils receive the best therapy provision available and that families can be confident that this is being provided. The school will want to ensure that therapies and medical services represent the best quality and right level for pupils in the school and will want the opportunity to demonstrate to parents that the arrangements are successful.

Given that Linden will have the ability to set a price for student placement should they become a MAT, will that costing be tailored to the individual based on the specific specialist input that the student requires?  E.g. would the LA looking to place a student requiring SLT, physio, OT, Habilitation and HI be expected to pay more than a LA funding a student who requires far less services?

The MAT will give Linden Lodge greater freedom to review its fee structure to make sure that the fees set reflect the actual cost of the provision. This may lead to different fee structures for pupils with different levels of need. In the view of the governing body and Headteacher this would lead to more resources and a sustainable provision.

Linden Lodge is a special school with children of  profound multiple learning needs. The majority of our children are more than likely studying at P-Levels and below. Whereas joining with Southfields Academy most of their students are BTEC, GCSE going on to  A Levels. please advise as to how Linden Lodge and Southfields Academy will be complementing each other in a MAT through shared educational experience as only a few mainstream students at Southfields academy have special educational needs?
50% of Southfields students have special needs.  There are a significant number with social communication difficulties and the school has specialist SEND provision including The Achievement Studio resource base, and the XL centre.  The Hearing Support Centre which is part of Wandsworth Sensory support Service has been based at Southfields for over 25 years and supports hearing impaired students from Wandsworth and other London boroughs who require specialist teaching from teachers of the deaf and a differentiated curriculum. The SEN students at Southfields need individual differentiated curricula.  Jackie Valin is currently working with David Shaw on sharing resources so that Linden Lodge’s high achievers can achieve more in their GCSEs. 
As Linden Lodge is funded as a special school and Southfield Academy is funded as a mainstream Academy, how will the funding be allocated in a MAT? I am concerned that our budgets will be merged and specialist facilities  become harder to come by as there will be less understanding of the specialist requirement needs for Linden Lodge students’ by some of the decision makers at senior level, who only have mainstream expertise. It would also help for staff to understand how Linden Lodge would benefit; if there was greater sharing of information as to how funding would be increased for Linden Lodge under a MAT?
The funding system for Linden Lodge will remain the same as an academy and as part of a MAT.  The potential increase in funding will come as LL is freed from local authority control and can set its top-up fees at realistic levels that reflect the complex needs of individual students.
Will Linden Lodge have equal representation of Governors and senior managers at Board/Trust level and if not how will this, affect decisions concerning Linden Lodge School?
The MAT board will be appointed by the members of the MAT trust based on their skill-sets and the needs of the MAT as a whole.  It can be implied though that knowledge of the specific issues at Linden Lodge will be a part of the skills that are needed.
Will there be staff representation on the MAT?
There will not be dedicated staff places on the MAT board but there can be on the Local Schools board / school governing body.
Will Linden Lodge be taken over as a school in the short / long term of will Linden Lodge be equal partners in the MAT? Whilst keeping its renowned national identity.
There are absolutely no plans to take over Linden Lodge by the MAT.  Linden Lodge’s identity and reputation is too valuable to weaken.
Are Linden Lodge and Southfields Academy staff likely to be merged/ assimilated as a way of maximising operating efficiency, sharing resources and staff?
The model proposed is a partnership one whereby it is likely the schools will be able to benefit from a broader range of resources and for staff to work more closely together.
How will Linden Lodge staff terms and conditions be affected and will this require new contractual conditions for all staff with the implication of reapplying for jobs?
Staff will not have to reapply for jobs and will transfer to the MAT on the same terms and conditions as now.