Most asked questions
What is an Academy?
Academies are publicly funded independent local schools that are set up to provide first class free education. They bring a distinctive approach to School leadership drawing on the skills of sponsors and other stakeholders. They give leaders and staff new and exciting opportunities to develop educational strategies to raise standards and achievement. Academies are all ability schools established by sponsors from Manchester's key growth businesses.
Why are we introducing Academies in Manchester?
Whilst the majority of the existing schools are improving, we think there is more we can do to help pupils do better. The hard work of staff and governors has, in many cases, led to an improvement in the most recent GCSE A* results, but these results can be improved further. There has also been a steady decline in the number of pupils being admitted to many of the existing schools. As the funding given to schools is based mainly on the number of pupils, the schools' budgets will steadily reduce. Schools will then find they don't have enough money for extra staff or resources, making it very difficult to improve standards. The Council has a legal duty to take action when schools are in difficulties but cannot give the schools extra funds to recruit new staff or buy new resources. We therefore think the best course of action would be to replace them with new Academies.
What makes the Manchester Academies different to the others?
The proposed seven Academies are part of wider plans to improve how well children do at school. They will provide more than an academic education. Through close links with business they will raise aspirations and help young people develop confidence in their abilities and optimism in their future. This new approach will create more resilient young people, equipped with both the practical and emotional skills they need to cope with the challenges of living in the city. Each Academy is sponsored by a Manchester-based business or organisation, committed to a long term partnership with the school, its staff and pupils. Each Academy will have a different area of expertise that will link with the city's new jobs and businesses to be created in the future. All seven Academies are determined to work closely together with each other and other learning providers across the city. They will become centres of excellence for their specialism; sharing this expertise with other schools. With other schools close to each Academy, additional links will be formed to share knowledge, resources and staff across a wide range of subjects and interests. Finally, the Academies are located in the communities, for the communities of this great city. Everyone involved in this project is excited and clear about this and committed to making it happen.
What benefits will the sponsors bring?
The proposed Academies will be exciting places to learn, offering pupils a better chance to achieve. Each Academy's sponsor is committed to improving education for young people and their communities. Sponsors will share their particular skills and knowledge with the school, help develop broad curricula and help pupils develop exactly the right skills and qualifications they need to succeed in Manchester's growing jobs market.
What happens between now and the new Academy opening?
Between now and the closure of the school(s), normal business continues. In terms of making the Academies operational, there are formal plans to ensure that both the start-up and the transfer processes are affected smoothly, including communication and consultation with all stakeholders. We are determined that in the transition of any existing school to an Academy the students and staff will be safeguarded and protected. A transition plan will be drawn up, working closely with school staff, students and education officers. Principal Designates are now in post for six of the seven Academies and are all expected to take up their posts by January 2009 and they will play an integral part in ensuring this smooth transition. In addition, as part of the design process, the team will be spending a great deal of time considering the construction timing and phasing to ensure that education of the children is not effected when the new Academy Building is being constructed. We understand the importance of getting this right, particularly for the children who leave before the Academy opens.
Do Academies receive more funding than maintained schools?
No. But they do receive funds currently spent by the local authority for running the school and, Academies like independent schools, carry out many of these functions for themselves.
What will the admissions policy be?
The admissions policy for the Academies forms part of the Funding Agreement between the Secretary of State and the Academy Trust and is required to be in line with the current legislation and the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) Codes of Practice as they apply to maintained schools. In Manchester the sponsors have said that the admissions arrangements will be the same as at all other Manchester Community High Schools, i.e. based on free expressions of parental preference, the automatic right to a place if there are vacancies and, if there are more requests than there are places, over subscription criteria which are fair, objective and in line with the statutory code of practice. Any proposed changes would need to be discussed and agreed locally, in line with protocols to be agreed between the sponsors and the Local Authority.
Who will be the Governors?
Each proposed Academy will be managed by a group of 11-15 governor directors. These governor directors will include the lead sponsor(s) and the co-sponsors, including Manchester City Council. There will always be at least one elected parent representative and up to four co-opted members. There will also be an option for Academies to appoint staff governors. The Principal of the Academy will automatically be a governor. Good governance will be key to success for the new schools. Academies will apply best business practices to school leadership, develop greater accountability for performance and create more collaborative ways of working (such as co-leadership, joint governance arrangements and creating partnerships and networks). Academies will also invest in leadership training, such as working with business partners to access their leadership programmes or through mentoring, and will encourage staff and students to understand that leadership operates at every level throughout the schools and education system.
How will students be affected?
The new Academies will be exciting places to learn, with a wide and varied curriculum. On top of traditional classes, you can expect to find out more about the world of work and develop skills that will take you from the classroom into the real world. There will be an equal emphasis on academic and vocational training, meaning that your education will be tailored to your individual strengths - giving you confidence in your own abilities and a greater sense of what you can do when you leave school. Each Academy will work closely with all Manchester schools to make sure that you can pursue an education in other subjects and specialisms. These specialisms will be in the areas of Business and Enterprise, Finance and Business, Communications, Creative and Media, Health and the Built Environment.
What will happen to students during the building and demolition process?
In Academies where there are existing schools, students will continue to attend school as usual until the new Academy is ready to move into. Disruption will be kept to a minimum and the local authority will be providing appropriate levels of support to the school during the transition period. Will the curriculum stay the same? The new curriculum will be competency based and student centred. Traditional and more academic routes of learning will also be maintained in order to provide students with a wide range of learning opportunities. The diversity of learning on offer will give students the confidence, qualifications and experience needed to play a full and active role in the economic growth of this city.
Are we going to get a completely new building?
All Academies will get a new building together with refurbishment of some existing facilities where appropriate.