7 schools in the Kings Heath and Moseley areas of Birmingham are proposing to form a multi-academy trust (MAT). There are 4 secondary schools (Swanshurst, Queensbridge, Wheelers Lane Technology College, Kings Heath Boys) and 3 primary schools (Kings Heath Primary, Park Hill Primary and Wheelers Lane Primary).
Letters sent by the head teachers to parents at the end of March made it clear that we won’t be asked if we want a MAT until *formal* consultation. But formal consultation happens *after* they have applied to become a MAT (see DfE website and the schools’ letter from February via http://www.swanshurst.org/proposal-for-a-step-mult…/488.html). We believe it will be very difficult (if not impossible) for governors to change their minds after application to convert.
Some governors have told us that - when 6 schools voted to proceed to formal consultation (see December letters) - they were misled into thinking that they were simply voting to understand more about the pros and cons as part of consultation. In fact, our worry is that they may have inadvertently given the schools what they need to apply.
Page 3 of this NUT document https://www.teachers.org.uk/…/consultation-on-academy-conve… lays out our rights under common law. A key point is that consultation should take place while matters are at a formative stage. Clearly if the schools have applied to convert this would not be the case.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Our previous open letters and petitions to the schools calling for a meaningful consultation *before* application to convert have clearly been disregarded. Last week we lodged formal complaints with Birmingham City Council, local MPs and councillors, as well as with the Chairs of governors. Roger Godsiff MP has written a firm letter to the schools saying he thinks conversion to a MAT would be the wrong decision.
BUT THIS MAY NOT BE ENOUGH.
Initial conversations with three law firms suggested that a solicitor’s letter be sent to the schools ASAP to seek that proper consultation take place *before* any application is made. We are working with Leigh Day to get a letter drafted in time for the Extraordinary Full Governing Body meetings taking place on or around Monday 24th April. We may also have grounds for a judicial review at a later stage, if the schools forge ahead and we decide to challenge this. If things got that far, someone in our group may be eligible for legal aid, but this would not apply to this initial letter for reasons too long to go into here.
We had hoped not to have to resort to sending solicitors’ letters to the schools we love. But a key point is that generally the staff don’t want this - even senior leaders. They can’t say this publicly for fear of repercussions, but they have told us. The same is true of some governors. We are not being treated fairly, and too many sources point to the lack of benefits of a MAT over alternative models.
Any contributions would be very much appreciated. All we are asking is for a fair consultation with the community.