NET Academies Trust

FAQs

What is your model of governance?

We propose that the local governing body will be made up of:

(a)      the Headteacher;

(b)     at least one representative of NET;

(c)      at least two elected Parent Members;

(d)      at least one elected Staff Member;

(e)      at least one member selected by the Trustees from the local community; and

(f)      such other members as the Trustees decide.

For some schools, by negotiation, there is scope for flexibility with the membership of the governing body. NET Academies Trust will appoint the chair of governors.

Would there be scope to continue working with the Local Authority?

We would welcome continued links with the LA whether informally or formally through governance, service level agreements, planning of pupil places, special needs provision, buildings, etc.

What frequency of formal reporting to NET would be required about the school and in what manner would NET wish to monitor the school through visits and inspections?

In relation to finance, HR, buildings, school improvement, etc. NET would establish with the school a system of formal reviews, aspects of which would be half-termly, termly or annually, depending on need and legal requirement. Intervention in inverse proportion to needs would characterise the school improvement dimension.

In your previous experience of academy work do you see a best way to market this development in the local community? What national interest would you wish to encourage with this development?

A period of consultation with all the relevant stakeholders in the community, including meeting with parents and local school leaders, is crucial to marketing the move to academy status. In our experience to date, open and honest dialogue with all interested parties meant that the support amongst parents and the local community for our first academy was high at the point of opening – and this has been sustained. Based on recommendations from the local governing body NET will formulate a ‘consultation strategy’ to ensure that the reasons for the conversion to academy status and its implications are communicated effectively to all.

Our clear goal with NET academies is that each, in time, is able to assume a national reputation as an Advocacy School. NET is, and has always been, the sum of its parts.

How would you approach something you were unhappy about to do with the day to day running of the school?

The NET approach as a sponsor is based on professional dialogue. If there was something we were unhappy with in terms of the running of the school then we would speak to the relevant people to find a solution that all are happy with.  A NET representative on the governing body, and the close working relationship between key personnel from NET and the school should ensure that all issues are anticipated, talked through, and resolved swiftly. The National Education Trust’s reputation is very good, and it is our clear intention to have this reputation enhanced by working positively with the school/academy community.

SEN is a significant challenge for the school. What does the NET network have to support our development in this area?

NET Trustees, Associates and NET Advocacy Schools have extensive experience with and deep commitment to different aspects of SEN: see our Academy founding principles. Access to best SEN practice is readily available through our advocacy schools (eg. Swalcliffe Park School) and wider networks. One of NET’s Associate Directors is Deputy Head at Frank Wise Special School, Oxfordshire, who has developed ‘Sparkling Classrooms for SEN’. The school would have access to this training, and would be able to call on other national practitioners for advice and guidance.

What would be the approach to managing NQT support and provision outside the school given that this is currently managed by the Local Authority?

If the school considers that continuation with the LA’s NQT programme is the best fit for the staff, then that should continue. It is not an either/or surely. Additionally, the benefit of being part of NET’s family of schools is that we work with many good and outstanding schools which can offer NQTs a chance to visit and widen their experience. NQTs at Battle Academy in Reading are spending time at a nearby NET Advocacy School to receive training and support.

It might we worth adding here that the establishing of a Leadership and Learning Centre is at the heart of all NET Academies; this would be something to be achieved promptly, for all staff, in the new academy.

What are your thoughts on strengthening practice on attendance strategies with the community?

NET has worked with, and continues to have good links with, a number of secondary and primary schools who have successfully tackled the issue of attendance. As a NET sponsored academy, the school would therefore have the opportunity to learn from others about how they have improved attendance, for example though high quality mentoring.

This is an aspect which is not easily resolved and requires some creative and practical thinking, rooted in particular community and family contexts. There must surely be generic and bespoke answers to ensuring that the school enjoys 96% + attendance figures over time. And these attendance patterns are so often set at an early age, thus the importance of working with children 4 -16 (and Children’s Centres) across a community.

The school is in urgent need of bringing the standard of buildings up-to-date and fit for purpose. What level of funding might NET be able to obtain / offer to support this venture?

Yes, this is a major challenge, and NET will strive to lever in DfE or other public/private funding, by presenting a compelling case to business, politicians and senior DfE advisers. We need to be powerful advocates for much-needed investment on the site, recognising that changes to the environment over the past few months have already brought many tangible gains for staff and students.

The new academy will have access to the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund. NET Academies Trust staff will actively support any applications for such funding, for example through the commissioning of condition surveys for the school to provide evidence to support applications.

If the school hasn’t made rapid enough progress in key areas, e.g. pupil attainment, quality of teaching, etc., what would the next steps be that NET would take?

NET is very confident that enabling and supporting the current and revitalised leadership at the school will lead to the desired improvements in the quality of education for all students, such that Ofsted will judge a good school within two years. If the pace of change is not as the headteacher, governors and NET would wish it, our best endeavours, rooted in a deep knowledge of school improvement, would be focused upon the school. Again, investment in staff culture and training is vital.

Has NET been more involved in primary or secondary education to date?

NET has significant experience of working with both primary and secondary schools, as well as children’s centres, special schools and FE colleges. Our Associates (drawn largely from primary and secondary headship) spend about an equal number of consultancy days across the primary and secondary sectors, in schools and academies. NET has led a number of reviews and evaluations of local authorities’ work over the past few years.

NET is respected nationally for how it brings its knowledge of classrooms across the country to bear upon national policy making.

We believe that NET partnering with the school will enhance both parties’ reputations within the academy landscape nationally.

What does NET see as the key aspects that will need to be put in place to gain confidence that this partnership can be made to work. In particular, what value will they add?

There will need to be a shared understanding of where the school is going and agreement on the high expectations we have in terms of student attainment and of wider, exciting educational experiences. NET will need to be confident that there is a very strong governing body in place which can provide the support and challenge necessary to move the school forwards.

NET will add value to the school by providing educational, governance and ‘back office’ support, and will work in partnership with the school leaders to ensure that bespoke support sustains the journey of improvement already embarked upon. Further, it will link the staff with schools and teachers nationally, with the ambition that the school achieves a national reputation in some aspect of its work within a few years. Thus, teachers and leaders will be able to work in other settings, look outwards, and help build the NET academy profile.

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