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Becoming an aided school

Information about changing from a controlled school to an aided school

The Education and Inspections Act 2006 provides controlled schools with a simple way to move to aided status. Prior to 1998, the rules on the compensation payable to LAs made this move prohibitive, but now no money is paid. This could make the move attractive to controlled schools where the benefits of aided status would enable them to serve their local community and the Church better.

In July 1999 Chester Diocesan Synod passed a motion encouraging controlled schools with appropriate support to consider the possibility of becoming aided and encouraging the Diocesan Board of Education to consider how the necessary resources can be provided. This section details the process involved but the advice and support of DBE staff should always be sought if there is any interest in this change of status.

Legal information can be found in The School Organisation (Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended by The School Organisation and Governance (Amendments) (England) Regulations 2007.

The differences in outline (for more information see Major Differences between categories of Church schools)

In Voluntary Controlled schools

In Voluntary Aided Schools

Staff are employed by the LA

Staff are employed by the governing body

Religious Education follows the Agreed Syllabus

Religious education follows the Diocesan guidelines

Maintenance is paid out of delegated funds
New building is paid for by the LA (possibly with a contribution from the school)

The governing body is responsible for Capital Work, but receives grant of 90% for approved work.

No single group of governors hold a majority on the governing body

Church governors are in an absolute majority on the governing body

The LA decides admission criteria

The governing body decides admission criteria

Which of these factors are important for your school?

Which of these factors could be important for your school?

Do any of these factors inhibit its development?

Which of these factors might inhibit its development?

To download an introductory leaflet, click here.

The stages in the consultation and approval process

To download this, click here.

The following is details of each of the separate stages of the process of changing the category of a voluntary controlled school to that of voluntary aided.

Between each stage there is a meeting of the governing body. This meeting closes one stage and commences the following stage. It is very important that the governors of the school understand each stage of the process and are supportive of what has been agreed and have a broad consensus about what is to be done next.

At several stages friends, colleagues or members of the community may seek their personal views. If there is fundamental disagreement among the governors this will inevitably colour the reaction of parents, staff and the wider community to the proposals.

Guidance should be sought from the Diocesan Board of Education about managing Church schools of different categories. Although the detailed stages that follow assume the Diocesan Board of Education will be part of the formal consultation process this should not be understood to imply that they will only be involved at a distance. For all controlled schools considering a change of status the Diocesan Board of Education will be the major source of help and guidance. It is recommended that a representative of the diocese be invited to be present at the meetings of the governing body listed in the stages that follow.

 

Stage One: Preparation

First governing body meeting
Agenda item: To consider a possible change of category for the school.

Decide at the meeting:

  1. What are the reasons for us to make the change?
  2. Do we want to consider the matter further?

If yes, commission individuals or groups to:

2.1 Explore the issue of buildings, particularly: a) costs of maintenance; b) costs of planned or needed improvement projects; c) potential sources of funds for the governors to discharge their liabilities.

2.2 Explore employment issues Note: staff will transfer from their existing employment with the LA to employment with the governing body without a break in continuity and with all their existing employment rights (terms and conditions of employment and collective agreements) in place. Existing staff will also continue to enjoy the same protection from unfavourable treatment on religious grounds as they enjoyed when the school was a voluntary controlled school.

2.3 Explore admissions issues.

2.4 Consult the diocese – if a DBE Officer is present, this would save time.

2.5 Consult the LA informally to establish their likely response to the proposal (there will be further formal consultation later). You may like officers of the Diocesan Board of Education to do this on your behalf.

2.6 Prepare consultation document (to download an example, click here)

2.7 Arrange meetings with the various interested parties and set a timetable for the process which follows. All this work should be undertaken and reported on at the second meeting of the governing body.

Second governing body meeting
Agenda item: Proposed change of school category.

At this stage you are not making any final decision, merely agreeing to take the next step.

  1. To hear reports on work undertaken since the last meeting;
  2. To agree that the proposal to change the category of the school should proceed to consultation;
  3. To discuss and approve draft consultation document;
  4. To discuss and approve arrangements for consultation meetings.

Stage Two: Public Consultation

The purpose of this stage is for the governing body to present its proposals to all parties who could be interested and to establish as far as possible the opinions of the individuals and bodies most concerned. For this reason the content of the consultation document is very important. The worked example provided demonstrates how a comparatively simple document can incorporate a range of information and provide the basis for the consultation. This can be used as a template for your own document. The governing body needs to consult and obtain the views of at least the following groups of people:

a) families of pupils at the school;
b) teachers and other staff at the school;
c) members of the local community;
d) the governing bodies, teachers and other staff of any other school that may be affected;
e) families of any pupils at any other school who may be affected by the proposals;  
f) any trade unions who represent staff at the school; and representatives of any trade union of any other staff at schools who may be affected by the proposals;
g) the Diocesan Board of Education;
h) the LA that maintains the school;
i) any neighbouring LA where there may be significant cross-border movement of pupils;
j) the trustees of the school;
k) MPs whose constituencies include the school or whose constituents are likely to be affected by the proposals;
l) the local district or parish council where the school or proposed school that is the subject of the proposals is situated;
m) any other interested party, for example, the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership (if one exists), or any local partnership or group that exists in place of an EYDCP (where proposals affect early years and/or childcare provision), or those who benefit from a contractual arrangement giving them the use of the premises; and
n) such other persons as appear to the proposers to be appropriate.

For a) to c) above it will usually be important to conduct meetings for all those who are interested in order to enable the governing body to explain their proposals, answer questions and hear the views that people wish to express. If your LA is able to assist, it can be helpful to have LA representation at these meetings especially to help explain employment and admissions issues. Your LA Director has a right to attend if s/he wishes to do so. You may like to be assisted also at some meetings by officers of the DBE.

While it may be appropriate for some of these meetings to give a broad indication of their views by a show of hands, this may not always be the most effective way of gaining the fullest expression of opinion from all interested parties. For this reason the worked example contains a brief questionnaire that could be used by any interested party. There is nothing to prevent individuals or groups expressing their views by letter, and this will often be helpful. It is important that by the end of this stage the governing body is aware of the views of all the groups that it has consulted and the balance between those who are in favour of the proposals, those who are against and those who are uncertain or indifferent. The submission to the Local Authority should contain an analysis of the replies that the governing body received based on the questionnaire.

For d) to n) above, the governing body should be prepared to explain the proposals if asked to do so but it will not usually be necessary to arrange meetings for these groups. It should be expected that the governing body would receive a formal letter expressing the considered views of the organisation. It may be helpful if the governing body indicates the timescale on which it is working so that those responding are aware of the date by which their letters should be received. If the governing body believes that, in the light of consultation, there is sufficient support for the proposal as it stands to go forward it will need to publish a formal public notice of the proposed change. Therefore the body will need to ask the Clerk to consult with officers of the DBE about the drafting of the notice. The LA may also be willing to assist and should be consulted on the text of the notice.

The worked example public notice provides an illustration of the issues that must be covered and the formal language that must be used. A note attached to the example shows the different places where the worked example notice was displayed and the timescale to which they worked.

It will be important at this stage to inform the Local Authority informally of the proposals being made by the governing body and to include in the letter details of when it is anticipated that the public notices will be displayed (an example is provided). This will enable the Local Authority to plan its work and to prepare to receive any formal objections. If there have been strong objections to the proposals the governing body will need to decide whether the documents which it has published have been clear or whether there have been misunderstandings. If there have been widespread misunderstandings the governing body may wish to discuss with officers of the DBE whether its proposal should be withdrawn or how the governing body can proceed with it.

If the governing body believes that its proposal, as it stands, needs to be altered or adapted it should agree the adaptations and consult the DBE about the advisability of having a further round of informal consultations on its revised proposal.

Third governing body meeting
Agenda item: Proposed change of school category.

At this stage the Governing body is making a formal decision to seek to change category or not to do so.

  1. To receive reports on the consultation meetings;
  2. To consider the response from the groups consulted;
  3. To decide whether the proposals have attracted sufficient support to enable the governing body to proceed with them;
  4. To consider the draft text of the public notice;
  5. To resolve to publish the public notice.

Stage Three: The Complete Proposal and Statutory Notice

If the governing body believes that, in the light of consultation, there is sufficient support for the proposal as it stands to go forward it will need to publish a formal statutory notice and produce a proposal document of the proposed change. The DfE School Organisation Website contains an online Statutory Notice Builder tool and a complete proposal template for a prescribed alteration (other than a foundation proposal). The template is provided automatically by the website when the statutory notice is built.  Governors are strongly advised to use this facility.  Go to www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/schoolorganisation. To gain access you must register for the “Members’ Area” on the website but this is free of charge. The governors must send a copy of the complete proposal, within a week of publication, to:

The governors must also send to the Secretary of State (i.e. to SOU, DCSF, Mowden Hall, Darlington DL3 9BG or via e-mail to school.organisationproposals@education.gsi.gov.uk) within a week of publication:

a) a complete copy of the proposal, excluding all documentation relating to the consultation; and
b) a copy of the statutory notice that appeared in the local newspaper.

Following the publication of the statutory notice there is a 6 week statutory period during which representations (e.g. objections or comments) can be made.  These must be sent to the LA. The representation period is the final opportunity for people and organisations to express their views about the proposals and ensure that they will be taken into account by the LA. If the LA fails to agree, then the proposal can be referred to an adjudicator. It is therefore important that all the documentation assumes no local knowledge, as there will not be an opportunity to amplify the material before the adjudicator sees it. Once the decision has been made and communicated the governing body will need to hold a further meeting.

Fourth governing body meeting
Agenda item: Proposed change of school category.

At this stage the Governing body can withdraw from the process or continue.

  1. To note the decision of the Local Authority/Adjudicator;
  2. To determine the next moves  -
    1. If approved proceed to implementation;
    2. If rejected consider whether to revise the proposal and start the consultation process again or to accept decision and drop the proposal;
    3. If clarification or further information requested prepare necessary additional material;
  3. Thank all those who have contributed to the project;
  4. Arrange to announce the decision of the Local Authority and the subsequent governing body decisions to the staff, parents and local community.

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