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Curwen Primary School

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FAQ's

As someone who has been through the conversion process before, do you think this change into becoming an academy would be beneficial for everyone such as pupils, parents and staff?

Yes. Coming from a school and seeing the conversion first hand, this change to an academy will be very positive.  I have seen three schools in Newham come together, working together and sharing their practises with each other in order to better themselves, the lives of the children and their education and the school. Curwen, Kensington & Ranelagh are working together in partnership with North Beckton and Rebecca Cheetham Nursery and the changes over the year have been tremendous and 100% positive from parents.

What could be the possible negative effects into becoming an academy?

There is always a negative and a positive. I believe there are more positives than negatives in the instant and we should look at the positive outcomes in becoming an academy. Should there be any negatives for North Beckton, there will always be the support from the other schools within the academy.

Should the conversion go ahead, would the children be affected?

No. The children are the one of the central reasons why we would like North Beckton to join the Trust. Children have and will always be the main focus and priority during the time the Trust has worked with the school and we will ensure there will not be a knock on effect to them or their education. North Beckton has come so far in the past year and we will not do anything to jeopardise their education or school life. Converting to academy could in fact contribute to their education.

If the school does not join the Trust, what would happen?

At present the TTLT supports the school both in financial terms and in support with teaching and learning and staff development. Should the school decide not to formally join the Trust then TTLT would withdraw its resources and move away from North Beckton. As a school with two “requires improvement” Ofsted gradings, the school will need to find a new partner.

Who will make the final decision on whether this conversion will take place?

The governors will come together and will make the decision on whether they think going into the Trust would be beneficial for all. Governors and  the Head Teacher will always keep staff, parents updated and there will be an opportunity to make further comments during the formal consultation stage if the governors decided to proceed. The feedback and views from staff and parents will help the governors make the right decision.

Many parents already think that we have joined TTLT, why is the process taking so long?

From the beginning of the involvement of TTLT with North Beckton, the Governors have been adamant that they should spend as much time researching and also listening to staff and parents.  Now that the school has worked with the Trust for well over a year, the positive effects are very clear and governors felt ready to move forward with the informal consultations.

Is there still a deficit budget for North Beckton?

Yes there is still a deficit budget, with the school are working hard to reduce.  The Trust has currently supported the school with approximately £180,000.

You say that the schools in your Trust have IQM’s for their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision, what is that?

These are awards of Inclusion Quality Marks.  All of the three schools were holding centres of excellence awards and now Ranelagh holds Flagship Status for its provision for children with SEND.

Who were these people that were handing out leaflets last night? Were they school staff?

The Anti Academy Alliance were outside the school on Wednesday 20th September handing out leaflets, which were full of misinformation which the Trust will look into.  They were not school staff. (see page 10)

So, that letter was not from the school itself?

No, these are not the beliefs of the school, its governors or leadership team.

Who are the Trustees and other leaders in the Trust?

We have eight Trustees, all but one lives within the Borough of Newham as we believe it is very important to include the local community in decisions.  Of our five Company Members, only one lives outside Newham and one is a local councillor.

Will you send our staff to your other schools?

No, this is absolutely not the practice of the Tapscott Trust.

Will the admissions policy change with regard to deferred entry into Reception?

The school will continue to adopt the admission policy of the local authority. 

Is the school against the Local Authority?

No.  The Trust works very closely with the LA across many areas and Mr. Harris sits on many of its committees.

This is the first I have heard of this proposal, I have been at the school for over a year?

The Head Teacher discussed these potential plans at recent parents meetings to ensure that parents were kept in the loop of what was going on.  It has only been a very recent decision that the governors have taken to consider a proposal for North Beckton to join the Tapscott Trust.

Has the decision already been made?

No, this is informal consultation and the first opportunity for governors to meet with staff and parents to hear their views.  The outcomes will be discussed by governors who will then make a formal decision.  If they do decide that they wish to join the Trust then parents will be asked for their formal opinions in a questionnaire, the results of which will be published, and there will be a further meeting. We urge parents and staff to ask questions, and to share their thoughts to ensure that governors have the full picture, and we urge parents to speak to other members of staff to hear their thoughts.

Why haven’t school newsletters stated these plans?

Governors only decided to move forward with their ideas in the summer term and informal meetings were then arranged for this month to update parents.  Parents were also informed during parents’ evenings and Welcome meetings.  The information to let parents know about these meetings was contained in the newsletters.

Another local school joined a Trust and then changed the uniform policy which caused the parents to spend a lot of money, will this happen?

As part of the Tapscott Trust’s published vision and aims, we state that it will be up to individual schools and parents to decide whether the uniform needs changing.  However, the Trust states that uniform must be affordable to all parents.

Why does the Tapscott Trust want to work with this particular school and not others in the borough?

Mr. Harris, as a National Leader of Education started working in partnership with North Beckton approximately 18 months ago, after the schools second Ofsted ‘Requires Improvement’ Rating.  We believe that the partnership has worked very well and want to continue this.  Other schools in the borough have approached the Trust to join but it is up to their own governors to make that decision.

If I had known a year ago when my child came to North Beckton that it would become an academy I would not have come here as standards may change

North Beckton has come a long with in the last 18 months in partnership with the Trust and all the schools currently in the Trust are rated either Outstanding or Good.

How are children allocated to classes each year?

This is a school decision and based on the number of new starters that come into the school.  We do reassign classes to give a better balance and also believe that it gives pupils the opportunity to meet and get to know other children in the school.   However, if parents are not happy the school will discuss individual cases with them.

I believe that North Beckton is very good at supporting children and parents with EAL

As a school we currently work with two therapists and have also introduced Vulnerable Childrens Meetings with staff to ensure that children are not slipping through the net, an idea that came from our shared work with the Trust.   We support EAL children and are also looking at EAL lessons in the community for parents.

Will the school improve its ICT provision?

Over the last year, the Trust has worked with its own schools to make huge improvements in this area.  However, North Beckton is not currently part of the Trust.

Do you provide clubs and afterschool provision at your other schools?

It depends on the needs of each community.   At Kensington, they have a large proportion of mums who don’t work and were not interested in afterschool clubs.  It is always for the school to decide the needs of its individual community.

Would the school still follow the national curriculum?

The Trust schools’ all follow the national curriculum but it is the additional offer at each school that the Trust helps with.

Do we know much about this Trust?

North Beckton has worked with the Trust for approximately 18 months in a type of ‘try before you buy’ mode.  Staff are now used to working collaboratively with the other schools and parents are used to seeing Miss Helm and Mr. Harris.

If there is opposition to parents, where would we stand?

It would be up to the governors to make the decision and this will be based on the evidence that we receive.  Governors are keen to hear of any practical reasons against joining the Trust rather than political ideologies.   However, the governors will listen to all views.

Are academies for failing schools?

About 10 years ago this may have been the model but this has changed now.  As an academy we are free to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of the community and be more flexible with our learning.

When is the proposed date to join the Trust?

Governors intend to meet shortly to listen to all of the feedback from staff and parents and then a formal decision will be made.

How will joining the Trust affect children with SEN?

TTLT is very passionate about providing for the needs of children with SEND.  The CEO is a respected expert in the field, having worked on the Rochford Review and elsewhere within the DfE as an advisor.  The Trust also provides specialist training for staff (and other schools) in Autism Education Training and in Speech and Language training with Elklan. Since working with North Beckton, the Trust has repeatedly pushed the LA for more support for children with SEND needs. In addition, all schools currently in the TTLT hold Inclusion Quality Mark’s for their SEND provision.

Do Trusts employ unqualified teachers?

At North Beckton for specialist curriculum areas like Art, Music and PE we might use well-qualified staff with specialisms in this area as their skills and experience are often higher than regular class teachers . If Cover Supervisors were ever used to ‘cover’ sessions these would be very short term and the teacher would have planned the lesson and left the resources. We would never use unqualified teachers as full time class teachers or for long term cover.

Are the staff happy with the decision?

Governors are also meeting with staff this week but feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

I have been worried about the amount of teachers leaving the school, will this change?

The school did lose quite a few members of staff at the end of the 2016/17 academic year but last year in 2017/18 this dramatically changed and only a very people left, all with very valid reasons such as moving their jobs much closer to home.  Staffing at North Beckton seem very settled now.

How does the Trust currently support higher achieving children?

Since coming to North Beckton, the Trust has introduced separate study for children in maths and English based on ability, which we believe is the correct thing to do.  The last Ofsted Inspection did note that this was not happening at the school, but this has changed now.

Will the uniform change if we join the Tapscott Trust ?

No.  Any changes in uniform will be a school decision, not for the Trust.

Does that mean that the uniform could change in the future?

If parents and governors felt that a change was needed then it would be up to the school to lead this decision, not the Trust.

Will the school hours change?

This is a school decision not for the Trust to decide.  Each school will decide what is best for their community.

Who makes the decisions about school hours and uniform ?

The decision will be made by the governors of North Beckton

Will the school still have a governing body?

Yes, the governors will still be responsible for the budget and standards at the school.

I watched that programme on Panorama about Trusts and it was very negative, is that a reflection of what happens in Trusts?

The programme did concentrate on the negative aspects of work in Trusts. Whether academy or maintained there are good and bad schools. As in business, there are good and bad companies.  We believe that the Tapscott Trust is one of the best models for both pupils, parents, communities and staff. Our accounts are audited every year and our standards are regularly checked by the government. Academies have a higher level of scrutiny than maintained schools.

Do staff need to reapply for their jobs?

No, all staff will be TUPE’d (Transfer of Undertakings Protecting Employment) and no conditions will change.

Will our years of long service be honoured?

Yes, no changes will be made, all current terms are TUPE’d across.

Will our pensions continue?

Yes all terms will be the same, staff already in a pension scheme will continue and any member of staff not currently in a scheme is free to join at any time.

What additional learning opportunities will our children receive to enrich their development in the wider community, should the school join the Trust?

The Trust believes that these are exciting times for everyone at North Beckton.  Since working in partnership over the last eighteen months there have been many developments at the school for the children. However, North Beckton has a lot to offer the Trust including facilities that would be attractive to other schools. Pupils at North Beckton would also join together with the Pupil Parliament at the other schools and work collaboratively on many different project e.g. sports and PE, Head Start, Bounce Back and other national and local projects that the Trust will join and take part in, as and when they become available.  

What further changes will there be at North Beckton should the school join the Trust?

The school has already seen many changes during the last eighteen months. By working with the Trust, the school has been able to make use of many areas such as cost savings with new photo copiers.  However, we do not envisage that there would be major changes and it would be for school to decide items such as the curriculum, the uniform and its opening hoursThere are other improvements taking place at the other schools such as an upgrade to the Wi-Fi that we have not been able to include North Beckton in at the present.

Can a school leave the academy/trust at any time? 

Under current rules, a school may leave a Trust to join another MAT but it is not possible to re-join the Local Authority. However, the school has over the last eighteen months built a strong relationship with the Trust and with staff at the other Trust schools. Both sides know what to expect from in each in future.

The only reason why this would happen is if the school was failing and the government would step in and move North Beckton to another trust. The school will be a part of the decision making for the trust. Before any school can join a trust, they need to look at whether it will be good fit. If there are any disagreements then it needs to come back to what is in the best interests of the children.

Can staff be redeployed to other TTLT schools?

TTLT are committed to ensuring that staff are not redeployed to other schools within the Trust. However, staff are welcome to apply for other roles within the Trust as part of their professional development.

Would there be more opportunities for staff to develop?

North Beckton staff already make use of the many staff development training courses that are run by the Trust’s Training Hub and we would expect this to not just continue but to expand.  However, this is a two way exercise as staff in the Trust schools can also learn a lot from North Beckton staff who are very experienced in many different areas.  Working collaboratively will ensure that staff in all schools are able to develop their skills.

Will the building improvements continue?

The building at North Beckton had fallen into disrepair over the few years before the school started working in partnership with the Trust but improvements over the last eighteen months are evident for all to see.   The Head Teacher has agreed with the Local Authority that improvements will continue and a scheme of works has been agreed that the Local Authority has a committed to funding. In addition to this, the Trust can apply for grants to aid these works and further improvements.

What is the plan for the school if the decision is made not to join the Tapscott Trust?

A local councillor met with school governors on 25th September to outline the Local Authorities plans for its schools.  However, this plan is still in development and it is unclear what the council could be able to offer to North Beckton should the school not joint the Trust. Should the school decide not to join, the Trust would hope to continue a partnership with the school but would not be able to continue the level of support that has been seen over the last eighteen months.  

Why can’t the school continue to work in partnership with the Trust rather than joining it formally?

The school could indeed continue to work in partnership with the Trust rather than formally joining but this would not be at the current level. The Trust has financially supported North Beckton for the last eighteen months as the Local Authority were unable to do so and because the Trust believes that the right of an excellent education should be available to all children, both within or outside of the Trust. However, the Trust could not continue to offer the same level of support without a firm commitment from the school.

TTLT has supported the school heavily over the last eighteen months in terms of staff development, training and leadership

What does the borough plans look like?

The borough does not have any plans yet, but have a different attitude now and are keen to help; proposed plans will be presented in December. The idea is to have a similar model to Tower Hamlets, Camden and Redbridge.

After TUPE, will pay and conditions change?

Once the formal consultation period is finished and if approved, the school would begin the TUPE process and during this time staff will receive a measures letter stating clearly that there will be no changes to pay and conditions. TUPE refers to the "Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006" as amended by the "Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014".  Both the old and new employers are required to inform and consult staff affected directly or indirectly by the transfer of ownership. Employment rights are also protected as part of the transfer.

The Trust follows the model pay policy set out by the London Borough of Newham but enhances the pay and conditions to its staff to ensure that the best staff are retained and attracted to work and in our schools and also that staff turnover continues to be at a very low rate, well below that of the rate of the Local Authority. The Trust works closely and meets on a termly basis with a joint committee of unions who approve all enhancements. The Trust is also passionate about the wellbeing of its staff and services such as Perkbox and Employee Assist are now available to all of the Trust staff.  Any enhancements to staff pay and conditions also include any new members of staff joining us and there is no two tier system within the Trust. The Trust is very proud of how it has enhanced what it can offer its staff.

How long does the TUPE process last for?

TUPE lasts for two years after which time after which time any changes that a Trust would wish to make would need to go to a full consultation with the unions. This is the same process that the Local Authority would use to make any changes.

What happens to pensions?

No changes, under the TUPE process all staff pensions will continue as they are now.

What further changes are there likely to be if the school were to become part of the Trust?

Parents and staff will probably not notice many changes.  The uniform, term dates and school hours will remain the same, unless the school and its governors decide to make these changes.

North Beckton is in need of help now, what are the plans for now?

LA have asked schools why they became academies, their response was that historically they have not received enough support from the LA. The LA is trying to improve the service that they are providing i.e. SEN team and EHCPs. The idea is to group some maintained schools together to share CPD etc. to re-create TTLT benefits, so will work like a MAT but not be a MAT. It will take 12-18 months to formalise plans.

What changes does the school foresee if the school does not join the Tapscott Trust?

Before the Trust was involved with North Beckton Primary School it had received two consecutive Ofsted ratings of Requires Improvement and a plan was required to be put in place showing how the school intended to improve. If the school decides not to join the Trust, our governors will need to discuss with the Local Authority what should happen next.  Ms. Helm, the named Head Teacher at North Beckton, has met with the Local Authority who were not able at the current time explain what their plan would be. 

What sanctions can be imposed by the Trust if the school doesn’t meet its expectations?

This is not how the Tapscott Trust works. The Trust has supported the school for the last eighteen months and would continue to offer this support. By working in partnership together the Trust is very aware of what is happening at the school.  If the school requires more support it would be for the Trust to take actions to do so for the benefit of the children.

What structure will be put in place if there is parent/child/teacher conflict?

This would be a question for the school and not the Trust.   The school would follow its complaint procedures and the Trust would only become involved in the event of an appeal against any decision made.

Is there a blanket policy for all schools follow?

There are some policies and guidelines that the Trust would expect that all schools follow such as the pay policy.  However, many policies regarding education and the curriculum are retained and agreed at local levels within the school by its Governors.  The Trust would monitor the effectiveness of this and offer advice, if required.  

Will the Trust introduce cost cutting measures as North Beckton is in deficit?

The school is currently in a deficit and the Trust would continue to support the school to improve its financial situation, looking at value for money and effective savings rather than pure cost cutting exercises. Also by sharing more resources across the schools we can support each other and this can lead to cost effective savings that can be reinvested into our core business which is the education of the children. With the help of the Trust the school is looking to clear the deficit within 3 years.

Some trusts hire non-qualified teachers, is this something North Beckton will do?

Across our schools all classed based teachers are qualified as are a vast majority of our staff. However, as in maintained schools we do employ non-qualified teachers who are experts in particular areas such as PE, music and  drama,  The Trust will continue to work with these experts as they have an in depth knowledge to better support children in some areas of their learning. We are also very proud of supporting teachers to become qualified and employ salaried direct staff.

Are staff happy with proposal to join TTLT?

Staff are positive as there is clear direction and they are receiving support from the Head Teacher. Staff understand that the school will continue to have its own ethos but they will be able to share experience and ideas with staff throughout the Trust. .

Some Trusts expect schools to specialise in a certain area i.e. music, science, IT, would this be expected from North Beckton?

No.  Other schools have expertise in many areas and there are cross overs in expertise e.g. Kensington Primary has extensive experience with EAL children and other schools may approach them for help. North Beckton may be approached about its Forest School.  There may be crossovers to share expertise but the school will not be forced to specialise in a certain area.