Dear Parents, Carers and Staff
You are invited to attend a consultation meeting on Monday 2nd March 2020 at 9am or 7pm at Woodcote Primary School, in the KS2 Hall.
As the Governing Board at Woodcote Primary we have been exploring the potential benefits joining a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) could bring to our school for some time.
Historically, schools that have been underperforming have been forced to join a MAT with the aim of improving their results. This is now no longer the case and in fact many ‘Outstanding’ schools such as ourselves have elected to join a MAT for the opportunities it can bring to their staff and pupils. We have seen this happen with other Croydon schools including Keston in Old Coulsdon a ‘Good’ school which voluntarily joined a MAT last year.
After careful consideration we believe the time is right for Woodcote Primary to voluntarily join a MAT for the following reasons:
- Sharing of best practice and ideas in education to drive better outcomes for all our children;
- The opportunity for staff development and continuous learning which would be highly motivating for our staff;
- Greater support for our school leadership team meaning they would spend less time on administration and more time teaching and focussing on the children. Particularly with the expansion to four form entry we have seen an increase in the volume of administrative work;
- Collaboration which improves classroom practice that ultimately benefits all of our pupils.
Governors and staff have been through an extensive process to help identify the right potential MAT for us to join, which included school visits and presentations from a variety of different MATs. As part of this process it was extremely important to us to find a partner that shared our school’s values and that will allow us to keep our identity as Woodcote Primary.
The trust we have decided to potentially join is The Pioneer Academy and the Governing Board have made a decision in principle to join from 1st July 2020 or as soon as possible afterwards subject to due diligence. The due diligence process includes a consultation about whether Woodcote Primary School should become an academy within The Pioneer Academy with parents, staff and other local stakeholders. The Governing Board will consider all responses to the consultation.
The consultation runs until Friday 27th March 2020 – please have your say!
The ethos of both Woodcote Primary School and The Pioneer Academy is that children come first, with learning at the centre of everything.
The Pioneer Academy is well established and has a track record of success. It was established by Stewart Fleming Primary School in 2011, and Belvedere Junior School joined in April 2013. It has grown steadily and sensibly and now includes ten schools, with ourselves potentially joining in July 2020. The Pioneer Academy only includes primary phase schools – 6 primary, 2 junior and 2 infant school currently. All Ofsted inspections undertaken more than a year within The Pioneer Academy have improved, including for schools that had previous weaknesses. This has been achieved through a relentless focus upon children, through high quality and committed staff, and through the schools working in partnership to improve practice in every aspect of school life.
What would happen if Woodcote Primary School does join The Pioneer Academy?
If Woodcote Primary School does convert to academy status and join The Pioneer Academy, Woodcote Primary School would:
- Keep the name ‘Woodcote Primary School’;
- Keep the same school day and the same school uniform;
- Continue to have 52 part time places in nursery and 120 places in Reception each year;
- Benefit from increased opportunities for staff across The Pioneer Academy to work together to develop and share good practice, undertake staff development, build expertise to support groups of pupils with particular needs, and enhance resilience to staff changes.
Two areas that would change are:
- The school holidays at Woodcote Primary School would align with those at the other schools within The Pioneer Academy from September 2021, with the school matching the pattern of the other schools with the autumn term starting immediately after the August bank holiday and including a two week October half-term; and
- The admissions over-subscription criteria for Reception entry would remain as now with the exception that The Pioneer Academy would propose adding a ‘children of staff’’ criteria. This would need to be consulted upon in autumn 2020, and would – if approved – take effect for Reception entry in September 2022 onwards.
What is an academy and how is it different?
An academy is an independent state school, funded directly from central government rather than through Croydon Council. An academy has several differences from a community school, including:
- Being responsible for its own admissions policy;
- Being responsible for its land and buildings;
- Having freedom from the requirement to follow the National Curriculum; and
- Being the employer of its staff.
The Pioneer Academy will use its experience to ensure that Woodcote gains the most advantage from being an academy.
The Board of Trustees of The Pioneer Academy is responsible for all the schools within the Trust. School Boards provide local governance, and support and challenge to the Headteacher and leadership team, and include parents and staff. For Woodcote Primary, the School Board would be formed from the current Governing Body.
Where can I find further information? How can I have my say?
More detailed Questions and Answers are available on the Woodcote website (http://www.woodcoteprimary.croydon.sch.uk) or from the school office. Further information about academies is also available on the DfE website (http://www.education.gov.uk/academies).
You can have your say by:
- Emailing your views to firstname.lastname@example.org – Governors would particularly welcome your views about what you think the advantages of joining The Pioneer Academy would be, any concerns that you might have, and any areas that you would welcome further information about.
- Meetings for current or future parents: Monday 2nd March 2020 at 9am or 7pm at Woodcote Primary School.
Staff at Woodcote and other local stakeholders are also being consulted.
The consultation closes on Friday 27th March 2020. Please have your say – your views are really important to us!