I have had conversations this week with representatives from the Trust and Local Governing Body of Shortstown Primary School. The Trust will shortly be writing to parents to explain the decisions which have been taken and to offer opportunities for face to face meetings. In the meantime, they have prepared a briefing for me which I thought parents would find of interest:
What is it that we are seeking to do?
HEART Academies Trust is currently consulting with those staff whose roles are involved regarding a proposed leadership restructure across the three primary schools Cauldwell, Shackleton and Shortstown. In this new structure there would be an Executive Head teacher across all three schools who has responsibility for the strategy and standards of the schools overall. Each school would then have a Head of School with responsibility for the day to day running and management of the school, for example meeting families, teaching and learning and behaviour. IN addition, each school would have two other senior leaders one with responsibility for Inclusion, SEND and another with responsibility for Early Years. In turn they will be supported by a team of middle leaders with responsibility for key subjects like English, maths and science.
Why are we seeking to restructure the schools?
Whilst the schools have made some progress this year and have performed well in some areas, results remain below, or well below, national average. We don’t think this is good enough and we are committed to improving the performance of the schools against national benchmarks; we want the very best outcomes for our children possible. The schools’ outcomes may be relatively good compared to other schools in Bedford Borough, but Bedford Borough remains one of the lowest performing local authorities at Key Stage 2. Children only get one shot at an education and we believe they need nothing short of the best possible education we can give them. The fundamental purpose of these proposed changes is to improve the outcomes for children at all of the HEART Trust schools. working through one Executive Head Teacher will allow best practice to be shared more readily and enable school improvement work to be shared more efficiently.
Financial savings that arise (if any) will be put straight back into improving the education provision at the schools in the Trust.
What has been the process?
As part of a legal process we have been consulting with involved staff since the 14th of September, and with unions since early September. All staff directly affected by the proposed changes have been invited to attend one to one meetings and a number have taken up the opportunity to do so. Some staff have put forward positive suggestions to mitigate against compulsory redundancy and have proposed alterations to job descriptions. We have taken these suggestions on board and revised the proposals to accommodate them. The consultation period has been extended 3 times in response to requests from unions, and is open until the 12th of October.
We have in the meantime advertised for the position of the Executive Head and invited expressions of interest to this role. The purpose of doing so is to ensure that, if and when the restructure is agreed, we can move forward quickly, and not delay the implementation of the new structure. The quicker we can do this, the quicker we can drive the changes necessary to improve the performance of the schools.
As part of the consultation process existing staff are invited to express an interest in the roles described and this is welcomed by the Trust. The consultation closes on Friday 12th October.
Why haven’t parents been consulted?
The consultation process is between the Trust and its employees. We do recognise that we could and should have done more to inform parents of what we were doing, and we are extremely sorry for any distress caused to parents who have subsequently received partial and in some cases, inaccurate information. We are doing everything possible now to rectify this and we will be writing again to parents with a more detailed FAQ sheet (taking on board all of the comments and questions raised over the last few days). We will also be putting in place some opportunities for parents to meet face to face with the Trust and we will provide information on this as soon as we possibly can.
To summarise, we believe that the restructure is the best model to ensure we meet our aims of delivering the best possible education to the pupils within the HEART Academies Trust.