What does academisation mean for you?

lisawhelan

Many schools which were previously maintained by a local authority are now opting for academisation, i.e. turning into an academy via sponsorship or conversion. This means that the school will now be state-funded from the central government, with the intention of giving more power to the front-line teaching staff – with the option to opt-out of the National Curriculum and the freedom to be more innovative in the running of the school. There are differing opinions on the benefits of academisation, and if your school is currently undergoing this process you will need to be prepared for the changes to your job which accompany the change.

Whilst academies can be self-run, about two-thirds of schools which have undergone the academisation process have chosen to be a part of a multi-academy trust, or MAT. MATs are a group of academies which are governed by a single set of directors, meaning that they can join up with other local schools, sharing teachers and other resources.

How can academisation impact my role as a teacher?

Pay & Conditions of Employment

Academies are not constrained by the national school teachers’ pay scale and conditions, meaning that you have the opportunity to be paid more when you begin working for an academy. However, the NUT advises that you carefully study your new contract, as an increase in salary might be accompanied by changes to some fundamental benefits of the role, such as working hours or responsibilities.

If you are already working at a school which is undergoing the process of academisation, your pay and conditions should remain the same because of the protections of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, or the school will have to conduct a consultation all staff as part of the transfer process to discuss any changes which will be made. If the school you are working for becomes an academy which is run by a MAT, the MAT will become your new employer.

Longer days

Some MATs and standalone academies have introduced an extended school day in order to offer increased opportunities for pupils to participate in wider cultural activities and sport without compromising the core curriculum subjects. These extended hours vary, but in some instances represent a potential added 23 days of additional learning time per year. This can mean extra teaching time without necessarily incurring any extra pay.

Autonomy

With academisation comes more autonomy for school leaders to focus on what is important to their school. This can come in the form of deeper collaboration with teachers; a greater focus on staff wellbeing; engaging more with parents; extended planning, preparation and assessment time; and greater freedom to spend budgets as the school sees fit.

Academies can also choose their own curriculum, providing that it is “broad and balanced” and includes English, Maths and Science. Pupils in academies still have to take part in national tests, so many academies will still choose to follow much of the National Curriculum. However, as academies have the freedom to vary the the curriculum, there have been concerns that this will lead to the loss of subjects, particularly creative subjects and the arts.

How can I prepare for academisation?

First of all, all staff should ensure that their school holds a consultation with teachers, parents, students and the local community. (Though this is not a statutory requirement, the Department of Education expects all schools to discuss with staff their intention to convert to an academy.) This way you can make sure that you have all of the information before any changes are made and you have a greater chance of ensuring your views are taken into account.

If you are a teacher placed by an Engage consultant in a school, contact our Teaching & Learning Partnership team or your dedicated personal consultant, who will be happy to liaise with the school on your behalf to find out if the responsibilities of your placement will change, although this is very unlikely. Our team will also be more than happy to support you through any changes you might experience, through extra tailored training, CPD, and wellbeing support. You will continue to be paid by Engage, and your contract with us will not change.

If your school has announced that is plans to convert into an academy and you would prefer to continue to work at a local authority maintained school, get in touch with Engage and we will be happy to discuss our available local authority maintained school positions with you.

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