Update: Following the consultation with parents on 12th February the Interim Executive Board voted unanimously in favour of the school becoming an Academy. The school have now also advertised for a new Headteacher for September. See the letter from the Chair to parents:
Parents at Sir Henry Fermor CofE Primary School in Crowborough have been asked for their views regarding conversion to Academy status.
In March last year, an Interim Executive Board (IEB) replaced the governing body at the struggling school. Since then the IEB has been working with advisers from the Department for Education. They believe that converting to an Academy would accelerate the improvements they are making and would secure the long-term future of the School.
Academies receive their funding directly from central government, rather than through the local authority, and they have more freedom than other state schools over their finances and curriculum, and do not need to follow national pay and conditions for teachers.
On top of the regular per pupil funding, academies gets money that would previously have been held back by the local authority to provide services. In 2015/16 this Education Services Grant is £87 per pupil.
Like independent and free schools, staff need to be suitably qualified, but teachers do not necessarily need Qualified Teacher Status.
The government argues academies drive up standards by putting more power in the hands of head teachers and cutting bureaucracy. East Sussex County Council has been encouraging under-performing schools in the county schools to either merge with a good or outstanding one or convert to an academy.
On 8th January Penny Gaunt, Chair of the IEB, wrote to parents setting-out the proposal for converting to an academy and invited parents to comment.
The proposed sponsor is Tenax Schools Trust, an academy set-up and led by Bennett Memorial Diocesan School in Tunbridge Wells. Bennett has been operating as an academy since 2011, but last year Tenax, which is a Latin word for ‘tenacious’ or ‘steadfast’, converted to a Multi Academy Trust enabling other schools across West Kent and East Sussex to join. Tenax are working to open a free school in Tonbridge to be called Bishop Chavasse. Discussions are also ongoing with Brenchley and Matfield Primary School in Tonbridge.
Penny Gaunt, chair of the Interim Executive Board for Sir Henry Fermor Primary School, Crowborough, said:
The Interim Executive Board (IEB) for Sir Henry Fermor C of E Primary school is currently consulting parents and other stakeholders with regard to a proposal that the school should become a sponsored academy with the Tenax Schools Trust on the 1st April. The consultation period ends on the 5th February and the IEB will decide whether to continue with the proposal on the 12th February.”
Ian Bauckham, Executive Headteacher of Bennett Memorial Diocesan School and CEO of Tenax Schools Trust said:
If the IEB at Sir Henry Fermor decides, in the light of recent consultations, to join the Tenax Schools Trust, we look forward to working in partnership with the school to continue the work of improvement already underway so that it better serves its pupils, families and the wider community in Crowborough by providing an outstanding education in a school with a strong Church of England ethos.
The letter to parents and a document entitled Academy Key Facts can be found on the Governor’s section of the school’s website: www.sirhfermor.e-sussex.sch.uk.