Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Background to academy conversion:
What is the background to the academy conversion?
Following Lightwoods Primary School’s Ofsted inspection in February 2020 where it was judged ‘inadequate’, a Directive Academy Order was issued by the Regional School Commissioner who works for the Department for Education (DfE). That Directive was then communicated with the Local Authority and the school governing body.
The DfE decided that Lightwoods would join Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust on 8th June 2020. The Trust then started to engage with the school to begin our standard process of converting to an Academy.
How was the decision made?
Lightwoods was directed to become an academy by the DfE, due to the inadequate Ofsted judgement it received in February 2020. There does appear to be some confusion however around the selection of the sponsoring Trust. This is undertaken by the DfE and is not subject to appeal.
Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust – about the Trust and its procedures:
What experience does the Trust have of working with a school in an Ofsted category like Lightwoods?
As a Trust, we have a lot of experience in improving standards in our schools. The 2019 data for our four schools, where this is available show that:
- Shireland Collegiate Academy had the best overall data in Sandwell at KS4 over 3 years.
- Thorns Collegiate Academy is currently the most improved secondary school for both Progress 8 and Attainment 8 in the Black Country area.
- Holyhead Primary Academy moved to 5th from 58th in the Local Authority combined reading, writing, and mathematics indicators at Key Stage 2.
- Tameside Primary Academy has shown a 50% improvement in terms of its Key Stage 2 indicator.
What is the Trust’s model for primary school improvement? What specialist staff does the Trust employ to provide this support?
We have a Primary School Improvement Team made up of five members of staff at the Trust. This team will work with Rob Matthews and Wendy Jackson at Lightwoods.
Our job is to take the pressure off the Leadership Team at the school so that they can concentrate on the school itself.
What will the school receive for the 5% of its funding that is retained by the Trust?
The aim is for the Trust to do as much of the ‘heavy-lifting’ as it can for its schools, enabling the staff to concentrate on the day-to-day running of the school and looking after their pupils.
The schools within the Trust also receive:
- A central-based Finance Officer to work with them
- A Governance and Compliance framework
- An established Primary Education Team to support them
- Staff health and wellbeing services
- A technology structure aimed at reducing workload and creating efficiencies including:
- An online Portal structure
- A suite of Microsoft Technologies and training
- A dashboard reporting system to help understand what is going on at your school and help to make better decisions
Will Lightwoods continue to have its own governing body? What role and responsibilities will it have?
We have a Standards and Performance Committee (SPC) in each of our schools as part of our Governance structure. In many respects, the SPC acts like a traditional school governing body. The SPC monitors how the school is working and connects the Trust Board and Trust Central Team with the school.
An SPC is made up of two parent governors, one staff governor, three community governors, and one co-opted governor. The SPC meets three times a year and each member receives induction and training.
We also have a Family Forum in each of our schools. These enable the families and the local community to influence the quality of provision, education, and care of their children. The Family Forums feed into the SPC and are held three times a year.
What are the timescales of changes?
We are on track for Lightwoods to join the Trust on 1 June 2021.
How will Lightwoods look and feel different in 2 years’ time?
Schools are inspected in their third year after joining a Trust and becoming an academy.
We aim for Lightwoods to be at least ‘good’, if not ‘outstanding’, by the time the school has its inspection in 2024.
Does the Trust impose its own primary curriculum or does each school develop its own curriculum?
We have a core curriculum that all of our primary schools follow, called Excite, Explore, Excel (E3L). Lightwoods will be able to make use of the curriculum resources and support that we have for E3L.
20% of the curriculum can be tailored by the school to cater to their own children however they feel is most appropriate. The school can introduce their own passions, interests, and localisation into the teaching.
The Trust encourages a wide use of technology in its schools. How will this be developed at Lightwoods?
Yes, we will support Lightwoods to incorporate technology into their teaching and learning.
Technology allows schools to level the playing field for all pupils and be flexible about learning, both in school and at home.
We believe technology should be used in the most subtle and effective ways possible to support and enhance learning. Using technology does not mean pupils will be sat in front of a laptop all day.
Technology can never replace outstanding teachers or members of support staff but used well, it is very effective in helping pupils to learn.
Will there be changes to the length of the school day and term dates due to conversion to an Academy?
It is not our intention at this point to change the school day at Lightwoods.
However, The Department for Education are currently consulting on models to change the school day in response to the pandemic recovery. In the event that the DfE chooses to impose a national structure, all schools would have to change.
Will children still get 2 hours per week as a minimum of high-quality physical education?
Yes, there will be high-quality physical education for pupils at Lightwoods.
Can we have an assurance that the Infants school site will remain where it is, and not move elsewhere?
Nothing is moving anywhere. There was an issue in the land transfer for the piece of land that the lower school is based on but that is now resolved.
Will the Trust change the Lightwoods school uniform? Why? When?
Yes, the school uniform will change to match our family structure that we have within the Trust.
The uniform will be black with a green highlight and will be introduced from September 2021.
We work with CC Uniforms for the branded items of uniform. All other items of uniform can be purchased from anywhere you choose as long as they fall within expected standards/colours etc.
What help will there be for parents to meet the cost of the new uniform?
The Trust will pay for a sweatshirt or cardigan for each pupil for the first year.
Schools branding and values:
Will the school Tree logo be removed entirely and replaced, together with other associated tree links? (class names etc)
No, however, the logo will change as we have a family structure for all our school logos. The new Lightwoods logo will fit into this structure but continue to incorporate Lightwoods colours.
The links to nature and trees will be retained where we can through the school website and other materials as we appreciate the strong connection and heritage that the Lightwoods community feels to its surroundings and location.
Future communication and consultation:
What further opportunities will be given to parents to engage in during the conversion process?
We will keep you up to date and get your feedback on issues where we can, but some things will follow existing processes and procedures and unfortunately are not open to consultation.
We want to work with you to help Lightwoods to move forwards as a school and your support is incredibly important in making that happen.
When the school formally joins the Trust, you will be invited to join the Standards and Performance Committee and Family Forum.
We have introduced this frequently asked questions section on the website that we will continue to update based on feedback and questions that we receive.
We will also update you on where we are with the conversion process and other important information via the school’s weekly newsletter.
How can we contact you?
If you have any other questions or concerns that you wish to speak to us about, please do not hesitate to contact the school or the Trust itself. We are here to help and support you.
Please contact the Trust by email in the first instance: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find out more about the Trust on our website: www.shirelandcat.org.uk