After extensive consultation, the Governing Body of Thornden School voted unanimously to convert to Academy status on 5 April 2011. The conversion took effect on 1 May 2011.
What are Academies?
The school ceases to be funded by the local authority but is instead funded directly by the Department for Education at a level equivalent to schools in the same authority. In addition, the school receives the “local authority central spend equivalent grant”, which is the “top-slice” currently spent by the local authority.
A charitable trust composed of Governors is established to hold ownership of the assets and to take a long term lease on the school site. The Governing Body continues to be responsible for the management of the school.
The school staff are employed by the school rather than the local authority. All existing and new staff keep their current pay and conditions, including all pension arrangements.
Academies do not have to follow the National Curriculum. However, we believe our curriculum serves our pupils well and do not envisage significant changes.
The school becomes its own Admissions Authority but has to conform to the National Admissions Code. It is a fundamental principle that we will keep our existing comprehensive Admissions Policy.
Finally, it is expected that all schools converting to be academies should form a relationship with another lower performing school in order to improve their performance. This we welcome as it continues the existing work we have done as a Leading Edge school.
Our main reasons for converting:-
It transfers further control of decisions about Thornden to Thornden. It therefore continues the process of devolving decision making started by Local Management of Schools.
It helps to protect the existing nature and ethos of the school. It provides control of extra funding at a time when the school is going to experience serious cuts. It also provides protection for a curriculum decided by Thornden to fit Thornden’s circumstances and which will not then be subject to de-stabilising change as a result of external political decisions. It gives the opportunity to establish in the principles and structure of the governance of the school, a commitment to the ethos and values of an inclusive, community comprehensive school.
It responds to the reality of the new policy agenda. Academy status is the flagship educational policy of a new Government which has already committed itself to continuing for a full 5 year term.
It allows us to seize and help shape that agenda if we move promptly. We can help to set a pattern in Hampshire that academy status can be taken forward in a way that emphasises comprehensive ideals, continued partnership working (including with the Local Authority), consultation with staff, a supportive, caring ethos and a willingness to continue to support Local Authority services where appropriate.
Initially only schools which Ofsted judged to be outstanding or good with outstanding features were allowed to convert. According to the Department for Education a majority of secondary schools are now academies.
Department for Education website: