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The New Chair: to academise, or not to academise?

Hamlet by Roberta Cortese - licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The New Chair: to academise, or not to academise?

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This is the second in a series of blog posts by a newly-elected chair of governors in a primary school documenting the experiences s/he has starting out in the role. For obvious reasons it’s anonymous – if you have helpful questions then please leave them as a comment on this post – subject to the new chair’s availability s/he might answer as s/he is able.

To academise, or not to academise, that is the question (with apologies to Shakespeare, and any other fan of the English language – and an acknowledgement that its source is a tragedy).

Autumn was a long term as the new chair. I’ve read everything I can lay my hands on, been to more courses than I thought possible, and think I’m getting there in a lot of areas, but there is one question that hangs over absolutely everything we do – and which could cloud our judgement under certain circumstances or in certain areas:

should we become an academy or not?

We’re lucky in that we belong to a local authority that doesn’t interfere too heavily, or skim a large amount from our budgets, and they are very supportive. We’re happy as we are, but we are due an Ofsted inspection in the next couple of years where, although we almost certain to remain as a ‘good’ school, we could well be seen as ‘coasting’. Our fear is that we will be ‘forced’ to convert to become an academy so do we jump before we are potentially pushed?

We’ve spent a lot of time researching our options, talking to other academy chains, visiting the Academies Show, and much more, but despite all this input – which, according to those who advocate academisation, is the best input we could possibly have – we are left none-the-wiser – especially as in our heart-of-hearts, maintaining our position as an LA school is where we want to be. So to my first question – one with what feels like a swarm of sub-clauses:

Do we ignore all the outside pressures and carry on regardless?
Do we throw the towel in and look to become an academy?
Alternatively – are we thinking too much about this?

My second question is related. I’d rather not let this series of posts become political, but I’ll just ask the question:

Where (or on what) is the governor’s time best spent?

On supporting and challenging the headteacher to improve the school, and the chances of the pupils within, or by weighing up the options of, and potentially going through the process of, converting to an academy? Most governors’ time is limited, should it be spent on these

If I asked the Secretary of State or the Schools Minister this, what might their response be?

As governors, should we aspire for these walk-on parts, uncredited extras in a piece of politically-charged drama, where the script is subject to intense, ideologically-driven editing every few years,? Alternatively, are we authors of and actors in this piece of living theatre, one which will colour the lives of those who pass through the doors of our school? Is to academise or not to the only question we should be asking? The responses to my first post were incredibly encouraging & helpful and I’ve responded where I’ve been able – any responses, comments and insight around this issue are equally welcome.

Image credit: Hamlet by Roberta Cortese – licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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  • Modern Governor The New Chair: the calm before - Modern Governor
    Posted at 20:22h, 04 March Reply

    […] – see my previous post on this – but we’ve made the decision – what I hope is a wise one – to concentrate on being the best school we can be and consider the academy question after our next Ofsted visit. Being so close to an Ofsted, we can’t distract ourselves by politics; […]

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