Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstandingSIAMS Report

Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School Life at Knaresborough St John's C of E Primary School

Parent Consultation - Frequently Asked Questions

Will the school continue to maintain its church school status and its Christian values?

Absolutely.  We would not consider joining any academy that would put our Christian values at risk.  They are vital in making our school unique and we have those as 'non-negotiables' as we look to the future of our school. Our school will maintain its close links with St John's Church.

Will the school still have a SIAMS (Church School) inspection?

Yes.  We will continue to have the SIAMS inspection every 5 years regardless of whether we are an academy or a Local Authority school.

Will the staff be paid less?

The staff will not be paid less by moving to Elevate as there is a formal TUPE process to protect them..

Will the staff have to work longer hours?

Our teachers already work very long hours, so expecting them to work any more wouldn't be beneficial to them or to your children's education.  We already look at ways in which we can reduce the workload of our teachers and we remain committed to doing so in the future.  

Will joining Elevate mean smaller class sizes?

No.  We still have to follow the legislation that is in place for primary schools.  Current rules state that infant class sizes cannot be more that 30 in size, unless there is an exceptional circumstance.  Key Stage 2 classes do not have an upper limit to their size. The LA remain responsible for school places.

Will the teachers have to work in other schools across the academy?

All members of staff can choose to apply to work in any school, whether in the academy or at a Local Authority maintained school.  There is no expectation that they will have to work in any other school unless they choose to apply for a vacant position.

Will you benefit from 'economies of scale'?

Yes.  The office team at Elevate will be able to broker deals that benefit all schools at a reduced cost, with broadband being an example that is currently being negotiated. 

Will the uniform change?

The only change will be an Elevate logo on the arm of the school jumper.  The school badge, the colour and the design of the uniform will not change.  There will be no expectation that the uniform has to include the Elevate logo on the day we convert to an academy.

Will certain schools be favoured based on the role of the headteacher within the trust?

No.  All schools will receive the same support regardless of the roles held within the individual school, which is unlike the support offered to schools presently by the LA.  The current system does mean that some schools get more support than others.

What happens if the CEO leaves the role?

The role will be advertised with the trust's members leading the appointment process.

Are we going to lose TAs?

As a school, we are constantly reviewing the number of TAs that we employ.  This is based on the school's budget and is not linked to being part of an academy, as has been the case for the last three years at Knaresborough St John's Primary School.  The decision to employ a TA, or not replace a TA when they move on, is based purely on the needs of the children in the school and whether there is sufficient and sustainable funding.

How much will the process to join Elevate cost?

All schools that wish to become an academy are given a £25,000 grant from the Department for Education to cover the costs. This grant covers the costs in the majority of conversions.

Who is Nigel Ashley and what is his experience in primary schools?

Nigel Ashley, the CEO of Elevate, was recently the headteacher at Meadowside and leads the North Star Teaching School.  Nigel has been a headteacher in more than one school and has worked with both the current headteacher and previous headteacher at St John's.

How can teachers do the pre-teaching? Where will they get that time from?

School's look at their timetable and identify opportunities, sometimes as small as 5 minutes, to work on any ways that allow children to keep up with age expectations.

Will more weight be put on TAs rather than teachers to teach?

This is not the intention. More effective intervention by teachers is proven to be more effective than increasing the teaching responsibility of TAs. Staff questionnaires from school's currently in Elevate show that staff are pleased that they joined the MAT. 

What are the negatives? 

The initial challenge was creating the central team of people that look after our schools. For the headteacher, there is far more challenge now compared to previously from the Local Authority. The positive side of this is that standards improve. 

What are these central functions?

The central roles include Nigel Ashley (CEO), the finance manager, human resources, payroll, legal compliance, business managers, facilities and health and safety.

Is there a risk that decisions are being made by people who are not at the school? 

The members and directors make the decisions and they are very experienced within their field of expertise. They meet with the headteacher board and Local Governing bodies on a regular basis to share strategic thinking. The MAT also has a Religious Education board to ensure that decisions are in line with a Christian ethos.

Would we be distancing ourselves from the rest of the LA schools?

The majority of the support has already gone from the Local Authority. We are already part of NSTA (North Star Teaching School Alliance) so that we never become too insular. Schools continue to work within their local areas and with their local secondary schools.  An example of this is on Friday 23rd November, where the primary schools (which are currently represented in two different MATs and LA schools) are meeting with the secondary school to discuss the needs of our local children in their local area.  Regardless of whether we remain an LA school or become an academy, the best interests of our children will always be at the centre of what we do.  We are still able to access any training or courses that are provided by the Local Authority if we feel they are beneficial to our school.

Will the role of our current Governors change? 

Before joining the trust, the Governors will agree to the 'scheme of delegation'. The trust will be responsible for Headteacher appointments rather than just the Governors. Governors will still be responsible for challenging and supporting the school and the decisions that it makes. 

Will our Headteacher and teachers be safe in their role?

They will be safe in their roles and will not be expected to take on additional roles in other schools unless they apply for them.

A lot of TAs are leaving schools within academies - will this happen to us? 

This is already happening due to funding and budgets within school. This is not linked to whether a school is in a multi-academy trust. Since starting as a trust, Elevate have not made any redundancies to front line staff. 

Will our children still access sports clubs, before and after school clubs and music lessons?

Yes.  These will continue as the children enjoy them and the staff enjoy delivering them.

Will there be any changes in funding for SEN?

The funding for vulnerable children and children with SEND is not controlled by the academy; these remain the responsibility of the Local Authority who pass on the money to schools. Therefore there will be no adjustment to the amount of money schools receive to support these pupils.  We will still receive the funding that is allocated to a pupil with SEND.

Are you expecting more fundraising from parents? 

There is no expectation that fundraising will be any different.  Everyone recognises the great work PTAs do in providing the additional aspects to school life.

From a perspective of someone who is not in education, if this is so brilliant, why isn't everyone doing it?

There is a growing desire from schools to become academies and move away from LA control. So far 75% of secondary schools have converted and 40% of primary schools have become academies.

Is there a point when it could grow too big? 

Critical mass would be 3000 pupils as this would trigger a new funding scale. The academy has a growth plan in place to ensure the MAT doesn't become too big, too quickly.

What happens if we want to leave the Academy?

If you convert to an academy then you are allowed to change to another trust if working with Elevate doesn't bring the planned benefits, but we could not go back to the Local Authority.

What room does the keep up approach leave for the other curriculum subjects. Does it still allow children to thrive in other areas such as sport?

There is no intention that a child will miss the rest of the curriculum to do these sessions.

Will there be more homework if we join the academy?

Dame Rena has shared research which suggests reading, times tables and spellings homework can have a positive effect. In the schools currently in Elevate, homework as a 'keep up not catch up' strategy has made a difference.

What happens next?

There is a meeting with Governors next week to discuss the comments, questions and letters shared during the staff and parent consultation process. It is hoped that the process to convert to an academy, if the decision is made to proceed, will be completed next year.

What has made you want to join Elevate? 

Support from the Local Authority is decreasing. We have looked at several different academy trusts over the last 18 months. We wanted to make sure that our decision had the children of Knaresborough at heart of it and that we could continue to work within our local community. 

What changes has Elevate made based on schools that have already gone into the academy?

The academy trust is learning all the time. We are reflecting and changing things based on these reflections which will continue.