On Friday we sent out an important letter (see below) regarding the future of both Selsdon and Heavers Farm Primary schools. Our Thought for the Week is for you to let us know what you think about the proposal for Selsdon to join formally withHeavers Farm in a Hard Federation.
Selsdon Primary School Status
Selsdon Primary School has a long and successful history of providing education to children since 1931. That said, the last two Ofsted reports have shown a clear need to improve the quality of leadership and teaching. In addition to this, the local authority has outlined a clear need for the governing body to make decisions around the future status of the school. Selsdon is currently a foundation school, but as the current Bourne Foundation is dissolving, the time is right for the school to look at a change in status as part of its drive to improve standards. With these two factors as a priority, the governing body has been working with the new leadership team to improve performance and resolve the status question.
As a governing body we have looked at three broad options:
- a link up with an existing academy chain
- recruiting a new head teacher and remaining a stand-alone school, or
- building on the relationship with Heavers Farm Primary School in a more structured way.
The Local Authority were clear to discount Selsdon as a stand-alone school, on the basis that it’s capacity to improve would not be sufficient. In terms of converting to an academy there are strong views in support of both becoming and academy and not. In truth, many of the benefits and freedoms available to an academy already exist due to Selsdon’s Foundation status, e.g. the governing body are responsible for how the budget is set, not the local authority, the governing body own the site and grounds and are the employers of the staff.
Whilst we could see a great many benefits from working with another school, there did not seem to be strong reasons to do this as an academy as we could achieve the same benefits in a federation arrangement. As more schools convert to academy, the support and financial benefits in the long term have reduced also. Finally, it was felt that given the huge amounts of work put in during this school year, that another overhaul of school and leadership team could be disruptive to the school and its success.
Selsdon and Heavers Farm – Proposal to form a Hard Federation
The link with Heavers Farm started in September 2013 with the agreement that they would allow their existing Headteacher, Susan Papas, to work at Selsdon to lead some key changes required in the school. Given the increasing links with Heavers, the Governing body has been looking at options to formalise the shared working between the schools.
The governing body has decided to consult with parents on the proposal that Selsdon Primary join Heavers Farm and become a hard federation. In short, the term “hard federation” means one governing body and leadership team, but two separate schools with their own DFE numbers, their own Ofsted Inspections and separate budgets.
We believe that that the benefits of forming this federation include:
- The Executive Head teacher can continue the progress made at Selsdon since September 2013
- Much groundwork has already been done, including introducing new policies which are now being embedded.
- The relationships between staff (at all levels) at both schools are being established.
- There are already areas where we will reduce costs to both schools e.g. IT management, staff training, contracts and Service Level Agreements, shared staff posts, etc.
- The relationship between the governing bodies has been established including mentoring support between the schools.
- There are significant improvements ongoing to resources and the fabric of the building being led by the Executive Headteacher.
- Pupil progress has significantly improved since September 2013.
- The quality of teaching has significantly improved since September 2013.
- Predictions for end of year Sats for Y6 and Y2 are significantly higher than the last seven years.
- There are joint leadership and professional development projects underway between the schools including training planned for next term, organised by Heavers Farm to include middle leaders at Selsdon. This will provide high quality training by staff from the Institute of Education, based at Heavers Farm.
- Staff retention will be higher as development opportunities are greater for all staff, including support staff.
What will this mean for my child?
There are lots of things that won’t change. For example your child’s teachers will not change and there will not be any changes to the school day. The school name will remain the same and we will continue to be a Foundation School.
The big changes in terms of school policy (for example the Behaviour, Planning and Assessment and Attendance Policies) have already been introduced and are now on their way to being well embedded (and are visible on the school website). Our staffing structure which was amended this year will not change any further and the leadership team will remain as it is now.
The difference is that changes in the future will be decided in partnership with Heaver’s Farm to bring best benefit to the children in both schools.
This e-mail is to let you know that the Governing Bodies of Heavers Farm and Selsdon are working on the finer detail of the plan and that we hope to launch a formal six week consultation period shortly, during which we are very keen to hear your views on the proposed federation between the two schools. If you have comments in the meantime then they can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org sent to Mrs Lynda Realis at Selsdon Primary School, Addington Road, CR2 8LQ.
Michael Forteath Susan Papas
Chair of Governors Executive Head Teacher