Conversion to Academy Status
Proposed Conversion to Academy Status
As you may already be aware, the governing body of Epsom Downs Community School and Early Years Centres has been an associate member of Greensand Multi Academy Trust.
In accordance with the requirements of the Academies Act 2010, the governing body is consulting on whether the school’s academy conversion should take place. Further information about what becoming an academy means, and how to comment on the proposals, is set out below.
Will Epsom Downs Community School and Early Years Centres definitely become an Academy?
The governing body has submitted an application to convert to academy status. However, the school is not obligated to become an academy until the contract between the academy trust and the Department for Education (known as the Funding Agreement) is signed.
The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement until parents and carers of pupils at the school, staff at the school, and pupils themselves have had the opportunity to comment on whether the school’s academy conversion should take place.
We are writing to all parents and carers and have also invited them to a meeting on Monday 20th March at 2.30pm and 6pm, to learn more about the proposals to become an academy, or to comment on the proposals.
We are also holding meetings with staff, and will be keeping pupils informed throughout the process. Any comments or representations which are made about the proposals will be considered by the academy trust before a decision is taken to sign the Funding Agreement.
Details of how to provide comments and representations are set out below.
The academy trust will not sign the Funding Agreement unless they are content that conversion would be in the best interests of the school taking account of all of the legal and practical ramifications.
What is an academy?
An academy is essentially an independent school which is funded by the state. It is independent of the local authority and receives its funding direct from central government.
It is proposed that Epsom Downs Community School and Early Years Centres will become an academy as part of Greensand. This means that the school will be part of an academy group comprising of:
Dovers Green School
Holmesdale Community Infant School
Milton Mount Primary School
St John’s Primary School
Wray Common Primary School
What are the benefits of being an academy?
In the school’s opinion the benefits are numerous:
- academies are independent of local authority control – this means that academies have more freedom about how they conduct themselves
- academies receive their funding direct from central government – this means that academies receive more funding because none is retained by the local authority for the provision of central services.
- academies have more freedom over the curriculum taught – this means that academies do not need to teach parts of the National Curriculum which they do not consider appropriate for their pupils
- academies can set their own pay and conditions of service for their staff – academies have the freedom to alter the pay and conditions of their staff (subject to normal employment law protections for staff) and so can provide staff with better pay and conditions than previously
- academies have more freedom to undertake innovative projects – academies are companies and so have more freedom to undertake innovative projects, such as setting up and utilising trading subsidiaries.
Are there any disadvantages to becoming an academy?
The Greensand Multi Academy Trust will be directly liable for matters such as insurance, employment liabilities, pensions, health and safety, and, property maintenance. However, as mentioned above, academies receive more funding from central government to help them meet these additional costs, and in any event, the Greensand Multi Academy Trust already deals with these matters.
Will the admissions arrangements change?
As a community school Epsom Down Community School’s admissions arrangements are set by the local authority, and the local authority also decides which pupils should be offered places at the school. As an academy, the Greensand Multi Academy Trust will put in place admission arrangements, and decide which pupils should be offered places in accordance with those arrangements. The academy will still be bound by the national Admissions Code, and Admissions Appeals Code.
The current admission arrangements will remain in place for the time being. If the academy wanted to change its admission arrangements consultation would be required.
Will staff leave?
If the school converts to an academy, all staff currently employed by the school will automatically transfer to the new academy on their current pay and conditions. Although the academy will have more freedom to amend those pay and conditions in the future, the Governing Body does not intend to take such a step in the foreseeable future and in any event, any change to pay and conditions would need to be consulted upon with staff representatives.
Will Epsom Downs Community School and Early Years Centres change?
We do not intend to change Epsom Downs Community School and Early Years Centres except in ways which we think will improve the school even more. For students, it is unlikely that they will see much, if any, change in their day to day school lives.
Academies do have the power to vary their curriculums and vary the length of the school day, however, it is not intended to take any such steps at this stage and would engage with parents/carers, staff and students if we did ever intend to make such changes in the future.
How can I find out more?
A meeting will be held at the school on Monday 20th March at 2.30pm and 6pm. We would encourage you to attend if you have any questions, or simply want to learn more.
There is also more information about academies on the DfE website:
If you can’t find the answer to your question here, or on the DfE website, and cannot attend the meeting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to assist.
How can I make representations?
To respond to this consultation on whether the school’s academy conversion should take place, representations can be made in writing to:
Epsom Downs Community School and Early Years Centres
St Leonards Road
Or by email to:
The closing date for representations to be made Friday 21st April 2023.