Your Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an academy?

An academy is a publicly funded school that receives its income directly from government rather than via a Local Authority.

2. Are all academies the same?

No. There are many different types of academy. For example, some schools have become academies independently, others have joined together with other schools to form a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) whilst others have joined larger groups and organisations, often known as academy chains. Different academies have a variety of school improvement and governance arrangements.

3. What is the Derby Diocesan Board of Education (DDBE)?

Church of England schools fall within the remit of Diocesan Boards of Education which are statutory bodies, not just another stakeholder in the expanding education marketplace. The Derby Diocesan Board of Education (DDBE) is responsible for the quality of provision in Diocesan Schools so that they are effective as well as distinctive and inclusive.

4. Why has the Diocese of Derby decided to develop an academy offer to its schools?

The current educational climate is changing and many schools nationally are choosing to take advantage of academy status. The Diocese of Derby has therefore established a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) called the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) to provide a robust and viable academy option for its primary schools. Three key motives are listed below:

a) A diocesan MAT may help prevent a school from being lost to the church school family.

The DDBE has developed the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) as an offer to schools who wish to take advantage of an academy model but do not want to be distracted from their core business of educating pupils.

This model has been designed to secure our church school heritage, provide highly effective external support and challenge whilst delivering much of the business side of being an academy.

The Secretary of State may force a school to become an academy if it is eligible for intervention as a result of being judged to be inadequate by OFSTED. The DDBE intends to keep all schools within the Church school family rather than join a third-party academy chain.

The DDBE has been approved as a strong academy sponsor and therefore the MAT has demonstrated that it has the capacity to support all schools, irrespective of their Ofsted grade.

b) A diocesan MAT may help small schools face an uncertain financial future

“The reality of our small rural schools is that three schools may not be enough to provide the strength and depth needed for fruitful and long-term sustainability. In many cases, it is more likely that real interdependence will be best achieved by joining the diocesan MAT. For *small primary schools, it would make much more sense for incentives to be given to encourage them to join the Diocesan MAT and find the interdependence that they need by belonging there.”

*A small school is less than 210 pupils. A very small school has fewer than 110 pupils.

From Working Together: The future of Rural Church of England Schools. (October 2014)

c) A diocesan MAT may help schools successfully embrace the future.

“This report concludes that the reorganisation of all primary schools into academy chains– as determined by each primary school themselves – presents the only viable opportunity for the sector to mitigate against the risk of mass failure. Academy status is not a panacea in itself, but it represents the best way in which to drive greater strategic capacity and capability in the sector. It achieves this by establishing collaborative practices around Teaching and learning, by supporting teachers and individual school leaders to focus on what happens in classrooms, and by supporting a culture of continuous improvement and development. In turn, these actions improve outcomes.” (2014)

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5. Can Church schools choose to stay as schools supported by the Local Authority?

Unless a school is eligible for intervention, it can choose to continue to be maintained by the Local Authority. The Derby Diocesan Board of Education (DDBE) will remain involved in a productive and valuable dialogue with our Local Authority (LA) partners in order to add to their provision in all of our Church schools. This arrangement of effective LA and Diocesan partnership is likely to be the preferred model for many of our schools at this time.

6. How does the role of the Derby Diocesan Board of Education (DDBE) change in an academy?

In maintained schools, including church schools, all money goes directly to the Local Authority. The Local Authority (LA) takes a proportion of the money from the school budget to provide essential services to the school and the rest is delegated under the Local Management of Schools. Schools can, and do, buy additional services from the LA and other providers. As a result schools currently depend upon the local authority for many services such as school improvement, HR, finance etc. This has led to a dual system where the LA has taken the lead on school effectiveness whilst the Diocese has focussed on the distinctive and inclusive characteristics of the school. This situation is changing. A recent report from the Church of England nationally stated:

“In light of the changing education environment, there is an increasing expectation that those who provide schools will be held accountable for the education provision within them. If a school has ‘Church of England’ over the door, then the Church of England, through the Diocesan Board of Education, will be increasingly responsible for the quality of provision within the school. This being the case, we must ensure that our schools are effective as well as distinctive and inclusive.” (DBE for the future, July 2013)

The Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) has therefore been established with its own school improvement capacity for those schools choosing to become an academy. If the school were to become an academy, DDAT would receive money directly from the government and be responsible for the school.  DDAT may, however, choose to purchase services from the LA if this is in the best interest of pupils.

7. What is the track record of the DDAT?

DDAT is a growing family of schools working together to sustain rapid improvement whilst retaining their unique character. All DDAT schools join in various stages of development, some are ‘Outstanding’ schools and some are ‘Inadequate’. Through collaborative working and a robust school improvement offer, all schools who have joined DDAT judged to be ‘Inadequate’ have achieved a judgement of ‘Good’ following inspection as part of the Trust.

More importantly, analysis of data clearly shows that the longer schools are working in DDAT, the greater the impact on progress children make. The group of schools that have been in DDAT for five or more years have an average Reading, Writing, and Maths (RWM) progress score of +1.6. The group that have been in DDAT for four years have a score of +1.1. The group that have been in DDAT for three years have a score of +0.8. The group that have been in DDAT for two years have a score of -0.1 and those that have been in for one year have a score of -0.3.

8. Why are most secondary schools now academies, whilst most primaries continue to be schools?

Every academy needs to ensure that their business model is secure and sustainable. Property management, procurement and human resources are just a few examples of services an academy would need to have in place. Many primaries simply do not have the expertise or economies of scale to make the move to becoming an academy viable or indeed desirable on their own.

9. How long is a sponsor committed to an academy?

Although there is no anticipated time limit for the Diocese to carry on its sponsorship, it has had a long-standing commitment to education and so this is expected to continue.

10. What happens to my children at a school wishing to become an academy?

Pupils in such a position will transfer with the school to the academy without any need for them or their parents to do anything.

11. Will a proposed new academy have a new name?

Not necessarily. This will be decided on an individual basis by the school.

12. Will a proposed new academy have a new uniform?

Not necessarily. There will be no expectation that parents buy a new uniform for their pupils at the point of conversion.

13. Will a proposed new academy still be open to the community?

The Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) promotes schools working together in families; interdependence rather than independence. Our academies should continue to be at the heart of a community and collaborate and share with other groups, schools and the wider community in things such as facilities, expertise, support and advice.

14. Would there be an increased emphasis on religion and Christianity in a Derby Diocesan Academy Trust?

The school maintains its status as a Church School so the emphasis would not change. Church schools are already subject to the statutory (section 48) Church School Inspection.

For community schools within the DDAT family, there is no increased emphasis on religion and Christianity.

The DDBE believe that distinctively Christian values enhance provision and that this generates a values system, ethos and climate that helps children to develop socially and learn academically. The DDBE values more than those things that are easy to measure. Nonetheless, over time average achievement measures in Church of England schools have been frequently higher than national averages across a range of indicators. Today 81% of CofE primary schools, are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted – which is above the average for non-CofE schools.

15. How will an academy raise achievement?

The Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) believe that school improvement is the absolute priority for our Multi Academy Trust (MAT). For this reason, the whole structure has been designed to challenge and support schools in equal measure. Our MAT offers a minimum of six school improvement visits per year from a school improvement professional, irrespective of whether the school is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Inadequate’.

These visits are not inspections but an opportunity for senior leaders to benchmark their judgments through shared lesson observation, work scrutiny, analysis of data, supported self-evaluation and school improvement planning. Indeed the outcome of these visits will confirm the development state of the school.

Consistently high performing and improving schools are charged less to belong to the MAT. Their Local Governing Body will also be given enhanced responsibility and accountability to make decisions independently of the MAT Board. Such schools will also be encouraged to share their expertise with others and receive additional income to further enhance their school.

Conversely, there will be rapid intervention in schools that are underperforming or on a downward trajectory based on Ofsted criteria. This would be sustainable because the school would be charged more for the services required. The Head of School Improvement, supported by the MAT Board, would have the authority to ensure the delivery of the school improvement in the event of local leaders failing to provide the high quality of leadership required.

16. My school has been judged inadequate. Isn’t all of this academy talk just a distraction?

Something has gone wrong for a school to be judged inadequate. Becoming an academy with the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) is not a distraction from school improvement but rather the focus of it. It is a solution that is not only designed to ensure rapid exit from Special Measures through pump-priming of additional resources now, but it also provides a completely different structure to ensure that it stays good or outstanding in the future. For example, the MAT Board would provide a minimum of six visits from a school improvement professional even in an ‘Outstanding’ school. These visits would not be inspections as such but supportive visits to ensure that the judgements of the headteacher and leaders remain secure. The MAT Board, through the Head of School Improvement, would have the authority to intervene as soon as a school begins to slip rather than wait until it is in special measures. The governing body would only have as much power as the MAT Board delegates and this would be in direct relation to the success of the school.

17. How will an academy respond to children with special needs or those who are talented or gifted?

The academy will recognise that each child is different and has the right to be included as a valued, respected and equal member of the learning community.

18. Will pupils’ education be disrupted by a transition to academy status?

When an academy is approved to go ahead, it will do so with minimal disruption to the staff and students. This will be ensured by a detailed programme being created in order to outline the step-by-step guide on progress.

19. If we move to become an academy what will it mean in terms of what is taught?

There are many different types of academy and this answer would vary from academy to academy. Schools that become an academy within our Multi Academy Trust (MAT) would be expected to continue to offer the full range of National Curriculum subjects. However, highly successful academies within the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) would have the flexibility to further adapt their curriculum providing that outcomes continued to be ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ against Ofsted criteria. This would be assessed by DDAT officers and also agreed with the MAT Board. Ofsted continues to inspect academies and their handbook for inspection is the same one as used in any other school. The academy would be expected to strive to be outstanding in both the statutory Ofsted (section 5) and the Church School (section 48) inspections. In other words, there may be no change in what or how they are taught; except that the move to becoming an academy is designed to ensure sustainable, secure and rapid improvement.

20. How is an academy funded and does this improve on current funding arrangements?

Academies receive a similar level of per-pupil funding as maintained schools. Within the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) the money that would have been provided to the LA to run the school is provided directly to DDAT. All of the money provided by the Government for our academies will be spent on behalf of pupils in our academies. DDAT does retain some of the budget in order to provide services to the academy. Local authorities fund their core services in a similar way.
The MAT Board has access to additional funds from the Diocese as well as capacity funding from the Department for Education. Funding is also available to cover the costs of the conversion process itself with additional funding for schools requiring significant support. In this way, the academy can benefit from front-loaded additional support if it is currently in special measures, serious weakness or requiring improvement. As the school improves, the MAT Board will pass more of the budget to the school because fewer school improvement services are required. The support will never drop below the minimum of six days from a school improvement professional. As a future good or outstanding academy, there will be opportunities to support other schools and to benefit financially from doing so.
As employer across a range of academies, the MAT Board may be of particular value to smaller schools by employing staff with specialist skills to be deployed across a range of schools. This may provide specialist provision in areas such a special education needs that might not be affordable independently.

21. Who will the Multi Academy Trust be accountable to?

Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) is contractually accountable to the Secretary of State via the office of the Regional Schools Commissioner. The MAT is required to publish procedures of its meetings. As a company limited by guarantee, DDAT must prepare and file an independently audited annual report and accounts with Companies House. DDAT must also hold an annual general meeting. In our consolidated model, many of the requirements that would otherwise fall to an individual academy are met by the MAT Board, rather than an individual academy.

22. Would anyone apart from the sponsor have a say about who is on the Local Governing Body?

A school’s Funding Agreement requires there to be two parent governors (elected) on the Local Governing Body. There will be additional governors at the sponsor’s discretion, including foundation governors, but governors could be provided from the community, staff etc. The Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) intends to ensure that there is an effective Local Governing Body in each academy.

23. Will the school hours be any different as an academy?

Although it is highly unlikely that the school day will be changed, it is the decision of the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) Board to decide this as they have the power to do so. Parents would be consulted on this prior to a decision being made.

24. How will parents be represented?

Two elected parent governors will be represented on the Local Governing Body.

25. Will the Derby Diocesan Multi Academy Trust (MAT) Board employ non-qualified teachers?

In our academies, all class groups of pupils will be registered to a qualified teacher, as is the case in schools currently.

26. What are the Terms and Conditions for staff?

On conversion to academy status staff employed by the school will transfer with the same terms and conditions.