The Board of Governors are proposing that Sedgefield Hardwick converts from a maintained school (currently under the control of Durham Local Authority) to an academy, as the lead primary school in a newly formed Multi Academy Trust (MAT).
Initially Sedgefield Hardwick Primary School will be the only school in the MAT. However the Department for Education is very keen on successful schools such as ours offering opportunities to work in formal partnership with other schools through the MAT model.
What is an academy?
Academy schools are state-funded schools in England which are directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of local authority control.
What are the advantages?
- Freedom– giving us the ability to operate more independently and therefore creatively as an Academy whilst still retaining a positive relationship with the Local Authority.
This includes leading our own future, forming our own networks, keeping and growing our incredibly talented staff team, having greater flexibility over our own pay decisions, and sourcing our own expert services.
- Flexibility– giving us the ability to be innovative in meeting our children’s academic and social needs.
This includes leading partnerships with other schools and businesses, designing and delivering a curriculum which enables our children to flourish whilst maintaining our very high standards as a school and complying with the Department for Education’s requirements and the best school structure to benefit each individual’s learning.
- Control– giving us the ability to manage our own funding.
This includes being in full receipt of the school budget share, having greater control over our facilities and be able to access additional funding only available to academies to improve them and having ownership of the expertise and resources we have developed in order to generate our own income.
What disadvantages have been considered?
The potential risk of additional leadership, administrative and support time required both during and post conversion.
The Board of Governors have assessed carefully the organisation and expertise of staff to ensure that we do in fact have the capacity to undertake this process without compromising the quality of education for our pupils.
Increased legal responsibilities and liabilities.
This would be mitigated through the engagement of specialist legal services and professional services, including a specialist Project Management company who have extensive experience of working with academy schools.
Increased liability for buildings and grounds.
The school is currently liable for buildings and grounds from its own capital budget. This would remain the case and as an academy there is in fact greater access to funding for projects to improve facilities.
The cost of conversion to the school.
The Board of Governors are confident that the Conversion grant awarded by the DfE would cover the conversion costs at no extra expense to the school.
What would stay the same?
The essence, culture and commitment of all at Sedgefield Hardwick to:
- Instil in all learners the balance of academic and social skills needed to succeed;
- Inspire all learners to apply these skills through dynamic learning opportunities;
- Innovate our approaches so all learners take the lead and utilise their talents
- The name and logo of the school
- Pupils’ school uniform
- Staff team including Leadership team
- A Board of Governors who would continue to hold leaders to account, enhance our networks and drive progress
- The way in which the school is inspected by Ofsted