FAQs for parents and carers
1. What is an Academy?
Academies are publicly funded independent schools who are not part of the Local Authority and have greater freedoms and flexibilities. A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is when 2 or more Academies (schools) come together in partnership. In the case of UPAT, we are looking to form a cross-phase MAT covering children and young people, aged 3 - 18 years. In phase 1, we are focussing on the primary schools by bringing together three schools all with a similar vision and ethos. Each school will keep its own name and the MAT will be known as University of Portsmouth Academy Trust.
2. How long would it take to convert into an Academy?
Most schools can convert in around four months. It can take longer if there are more complicated matters, but we are planning to convert to academy status on 1 September 2021.
3. How will everyone be consulted with and informed throughout the process?
The Trust is keen to hear feedback from all affected by the conversion. Therefore, several activities and communications will be coordinated for parents and families, staff, and affected local organisations.
Information will be provided in several formats.We proposed to keep you up to date through letters, newsletters, and the website. There is a consultation survey available online for families where you can provide your feedback both on the conversion and regarding how you wish to be communicated with.
4. What are the benefits to my child and family of the school joining UPAT?
By being part of UPAT your school will work with the Trust to improve in any area it identifies. This could be teaching and learning, classrooms resources, or opportunities for the children. Schools will be able to work together to create greater spending power and therefore ensuring more money can be spent in the classrooms.
As a group of schools, teachers and headteachers will be able to support each other and utilise their different skills. For example, one school may have a French speaking teacher who can offer lessons at another school where they don’t have that opportunity.
Through UPAT’s partnership with the University of Portsmouth this opens up new opportunities for our children to have access to events and trips at the University and to give young people an insight into what it might be like to attend university.
5. Will our school continue to be inspected by Ofsted?
Yes. All school academies are inspected by Ofsted using the same framework and timescales as for maintained schools.
6. Will the new Academy have to follow the national curriculum?
Academies must deliver "a broad and balanced" curriculum, but academies do have the freedom to arrange learning within the school day. University of Portsmouth Academy Trust is keen to ensure the curriculum continues to provide the best possible learning for its pupils. We do not propose to make any major changes to the curriculum. Our freedoms as an academy will enable us to enrich the curriculum to the benefit of our children.
7. Will the admissions policy change when the school becomes an academy?
No, we will continue to adhere to the local authority admissions policies.
8. What impact does academy status have on Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision?
None. All academy funding agreements include details of their obligations regarding children with SEN. An academy must behave as if they were a maintained school in meeting the needs of children with SEN. The level of provision currently offered to learners with SEN at our school (and all other schools within the Trust) will be maintained as a minimum.
9. My child currently receives additional learning support, will this continue?
Yes, all additional support will continue as will the level of provision for learners with SEN. The Trust is committed to supporting all learners to succeed; whatever their needs.
10. Will the conversion to an academy mean I must provide a new uniform for my child(ren)?
No. There are no plans to change either the school name or the uniform as a result of the school converting to an academy.
11. Will the Academy have the same school term/school holiday dates as all other local schools that continue to have links with the council?
Yes – we will coordinate all holidays with the Local Authority.
12. Would the local authority still have any involvement in all the schools within the Trust once it has converted?
Yes. University of Portsmouth Academy Trust will still work with the local authority and values its partnership for the benefit of the children. The school will also continue to buy in to some local authority services where these are of benefit to the school and offer the best value for money.
The local authority retains responsibility for certain aspects such as ensuring there are enough school places, overseeing admissions complaints, and commissioning support for children with specific needs; especially those with SEN.
13. Will there still be parental Governors on the Governing Board?
Yes. There are no plans to make any changes to our schools current Governing Board or any other school within the Trust.
14: Who is responsible for the school building after conversion?
The costs of repair and internal decoration will be managed as part of the school budget (as is currently the case). Academy trusts also have opportunities to bid for additional funding from the Government where there is an identified need. Such bids are considered across the country based on urgency of need.
15. What major changes will my child see in their day-to-day attendance at school as a result of becoming an Academy?
There will be very little difference in day-to-day attendance at school however University of Portsmouth Academy Trust hopes to bring extra support to the school and to provide additional opportunities for learners and staff by being part of an education family in Portsmouth.
16. Who are University of Portsmouth Academy Trust accountable to?
Trusts are held accountable for their academies and, in particular, for improving performance. Academies are subject to the same inspection and scrutiny as local authority maintained schools. Where Ofsted inspection reports or school data provide cause for concern, the Regional Schools Commissioner will work with the Trust to take swift and decisive action to address concerns. This process is the same for all maintained schools as well as academies.
17. Will the Trust make a profit?
Trusts are not legally allowed to make any profit from academies and this is specifically written into the Funding Agreement. University of Portsmouth Academy Trust is focused on directing as much money as possible to benefit pupils and support the schools to continue to thrive.
You can also read more about academy facts from the Department of Education.
18. What is the process for recruiting a full-time Chief Executive Officer?
UPAT are currently reviewing recruitment options to support the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This is a critical appointment for the Trust and we are therefore looking to work with a specialist organisation to support the process. Our plan is recruit as soon as is practically possible, which will be driven by candidate availability and notice periods, but we envisage the appointment to be made and a new CEO in post by late 2021/early 2022. In the interim period, Polly Honeychurch (current Headteacher at Cottage Grove Primary School) will continue to lead as Interim CEO. Polly has an extensive background in school leadership, as well as a close working relationship with the three schools.
If you have any questions or feedback about the formation of University of Portsmouth Academy Trust or the academisation of the schools, please direct these to:
Lesley Millard, Project Manager, GLK Solutions
Tel: 07921 645 756