Recent experience shows that the academy agenda is a potentially contentious issue for any infant or primary school. It is very important therefore that leaders and governors have a means to privately discuss the issues currently facing them in a neutral context using all the available facts. The premature involvement of wider stakeholders (e.g. parents, local press etc.) – many of whom will understandably have their own views as to whether the Academy agenda is good or bad – can be counter productive. It is an unfortunate fact born from experience that many stakeholders can be all too quick to assume that any debate around the subject is an inexorable precursor to an intention to become an Academy.
Whether ultimately deciding not to pursue academy conversion at this time, or deciding to move to a more public consultation, network members have thus learned that a coherent and clearly communicated argument is critical. Simply stating “The Academy agenda is not for us” or “We want to become an academy to gain greater independence” – both of which could be stated for justifiable ideological reasons – requires a coherent evidence-based argument that can be communicated to stakeholders. The experience of secondary colleagues shows us that as other local schools state their position, the need to be able to justify any such statement (including to the local media!) becomes critical. Some would say that as leaders of a community with a vested interest in our decisions, we should perhaps expect to be challenged in this way.
In short therefore, it may be decided by leadership and governors that becoming an academy is not desirable at this time, in which case a shared explanation needs to be formulated. Alternatively, becoming an academy may be seen to be of value, and that a process of public consultation should now be entered into: either way it is critical that a full and detailed picture is obtained. This is not easy. Two key aspects have found to be important by the network, and they are covered through the links below:
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