School to Academy – the transition
With the Chancellor announcing in today’s budget that all schools must be academies by 2022, it seems it is a good time to look at the effect of moving to this new status.
Over the last couple of years, Beaming has worked with schools which have transitioned from Local Education Authority maintained school to becoming academy. I thought it might be useful to write down how we have seen this process work. There are three key areas from our perspective – governance, finance and connectivity.
A change in governance is the most highly visible part of moving from school to academy. The additional roles and responsibilities of being a governor and additional layers of governance need to be communicated to all within the school community, especially parents. The new responsibilities do however arrive with more independence and autonomy when making decisions about where the school’s future lies, including the academy’s use of technology as a teaching aid.
The financial aspect of becoming an academy is key to the success of the new organisation. Governors are there to provide financial oversight but the school itself now has total control of its budgets. In the past there has been additional financial help from government when moving from LEA school to academy status. This has helped deliver the transition but there is usually some overlap in the timing of receiving invoices and issuing payments, which needs to be managed carefully whilst the new financial arrangements are put in place. Keeping suppliers up to date with any changes, such as a different name on invoices or the new purchase order system will make this a smoother process.
Finally there is our experience of providing connectivity to schools, which find themselves freed of any constraints in their choice of provider. Moving to academy status is not just a matter of changing the school website but could also be seen as an opportunity to look at how the school uses the internet and what the long term connectivity needs are going to be for the particular curriculum which the academy wishes to implement. This is something over which care should be taken. Every academy is different and the more school sites involved the more complex the requirement can be.
Beaming specialises in providing multi-site connectivity solutions for schools which meet the bespoke requirements of the academy and which mean being safe online, meeting the Prevent agenda and delivering online resources, alongside the operational efficiencies which a well managed network can bring.
Read the Academy Trust case study.