The primary and secondary school to be built in north West End has yet to be named, so for convenience I will refer to it as Chalcroft school until a name has been penned. The construction of this school has coincided with the publication of Government’s vision for schools, Educational Excellence Everywhere, which quite naturally will raise questions from parents whose children are likely to attend the schools.
Chalcroft “Through” School
I will update you about the school as information becomes through. The first interesting fact is that the school will not be thought of as two separate schools, but as one combined entity known as a “Through school”. No secondary school has been constructed in Hampshire for over 30 years and probably a primary and secondary on the same site has never been constructed in Hampshire, so this project can be considered ground-
The primary school (year R to year 6) will be known as the lower school, whereas the secondary school (year 7 to year 11) will be known as the upper school. This will provide a form of continuity for the children as they rise through the school years, obviating the need for children who transfer from separate schools to repeat much of what they learnt in year 6 at primary level, at year 7 in a new school. It will take a number of years to construct the school and much funding and so the final size of the school will depend on births and migration to the area. Reference is made to “Form Entry” to explain how many pupils will be studying at a school. There is an advised top limit to class sizes of 30 pupils, so 1-
What are the uncertainties?
What we know currently is that the Local Education Authority (LEA) has the statutory duty to manage the education of children from year R to year 11 and in Hampshire, the LEA is Hampshire County Council. All secondary schools in Hampshire have transferred to Academy status, but many teachers when questioned say that the reason their school transferred was in order to receive extra funding rather than for direct educational reasons. They were also led to understand that should they wish to go back to “Maintained” status, they could only do so after a period of 7 years had elapsed as an Academy. This now seems to be irrelevant if the Government’s proposed white paper becomes law, since all schools will be required to adopt Academy status.
Government have said that schools that have transferred to Academy status, will have to lease the land and school buildings under a 125 contract with the LEA, making them responsible for any maintenance for those buildings. The Government white paper however proposes that the ownership of all such leases will transfer to the Secretary of State in 2022. The construction of Chalcroft School will cross those timelines, so what will be the process for construction when the LEA is no longer involved? The LEA is currently managing the construction and will hand over the lease to the Academy Trust when the school opens.
Currently, LEAs manage the schools in their areas. In 2016, Hampshire County Council is responsible for 500 schools. In future, one Academy could be managed by a Trust. Government would not want this and is encouraging would be Trusts to have control of numerous Academies, known as Multi Academy trusts, but is not Hampshire County Council already a Multi Academy Trust? Who is likely to be the Trust that manages Chalcroft School? How many schools will this trust manage? Who will manage the Trust? Will it be the Head Teacher of one of the Academies? Will it be a new “Super Head Teacher” who no longer teaches, but becomes a businessperson? Will the Trusts be permitted to contact out work to the LEA?
I will be asking many questions about all of these topics and more over the ensuing years.