The Hands Off Barclay campaign is being run by parents and supporters who are against the forced academisation of The Barclay School by Future Academies Trust, a London based Multi Academy Trust (MAT) chaired by the ex Academies minister Lord Nash.
.The CEO of Future Academies Trust is Paul Smith who was previously one of the original eight Regional Schools Commissioners when this civil service role was established in 2014 to approve new academies and intervene to tackle underperformance in academies in each region.
Details about the structure of Future Academies Trust can be found at: https://www.futureacademies.org/attachments/download.asp?file=1144&type=pdf
Academies are directly accountable to the Department for Education rather than maintained by the Local Authority. They do not have to follow the National Curriculum; they may employ unqualified staff as teachers and they do not have to adhere to national agreements for School Teachers Pay and Conditions.
The original sponsored academies were introduced by Labour from 2000 and generally replaced one or more existing schools, particularly where those schools were facing difficulties. In 2010, the incoming Conservative government sought to increase the number of academies and allowed existing maintained schools to choose to convert to academy status and new free schools were academies on opening. As the same time, funding arrangements meant that there was financial advantage to conversion and so the number of academies rose considerably.
All the existing schools in Stevenage that are academies are converter academies linked to various academy trusts as shown below:
Hart Schools Trust – The Thomas Alleyne Academy, Roebuck Primary
Claxton Trust – Camps Hill and Fairlands Primary Schools
Larwood Academy Trust – Larwood School
Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust – John Henry Newman School
Where a school is forcibly academised, an Academy Order served and the Regional Schools Commissioner chooses a sponsor Academy Trust and the existing governing body including elected parent and staff governors is replaced by Trustees appointed by unelected members of the Academy Trust.
Barclay was inspected in July 2016 and when the Ofsted report with its Inadequate judgement was published in October 2016, the school was placed in Special Measures. https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2601557
In December 2016, the Headteacher, Deputy Head and 2 Assistant Headteachers left and were replaced in January 2017 by an interim leadership team. This new team consisted of Executive Headteacher Martin Brown from Hitchin Boys, Headteacher Mark Allchorn and Deputy Headteacher Lauren Phillips.
Herts for Learning Multi Academy Trust identified as sponsor to form Academy on 1st September 2017 with Barclay to be the flagship secondary school of the newly formed MAT but this did not happen.
http://www.thecomet.net/news/academy-which-hopes-to-lead-school-to-excellence-could-set-tone-for-the-future-of-education-in-stevenage-1-4924134 The Herts for Learning MAT now includes primary schools.
In March 2017, Mark Allchorn and Lauren Phillips were appointed as permanent Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher respectively.
In September 2017 a first monitoring visit from Ofsted took place https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2732697 The report included: “Leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures” and “The foundations for rapid improvement are being established but new strategies are at an early stage of implementation.”
In April 2018, a second monitoring visit from Ofsted took place and was converted to full inspection. https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2775231 The overall judgement was Requires Improvement and Special Measures were removed. Personal development, behaviour and welfare along with 16 to 19 study programmes were judged Good. The first Strength on the report noted: “Determined senior leadership is making a positive difference to the quality of education that the school provides.”
In June 2018, staff were informed that the Academy Order was still in place and Future Academies identified as sponsor. A letter sent to parents in October 2018 gave an update on the Academy Order stating that Future Academies identified as sponsor but that governors were seeking further clarification on what relationship could look like.
A public meeting chaired by the local Hertfordshire County Councillor Josh Bennett Lovell took place in November following an article in the Comet which reported Josh’s concerns about the need for Barclay to become an academy http://www.thecomet.net/news/education/stevenage-s-barclay-school-academy-plans-1-5760726
Jean Roberts from the Anti-Academies Alliance spoke about general concerns about academisation and Jill Borcherds, National Education Union representative at Barclay outlined staff concerns regarding likely changes to governance, curriculum, expected teaching methods and staffing arrangements.
Following the meeting, parents formed the Hands Off Barclay campaign group, established a Hands Off Barclay Facebook Group and set up an online petition against academisation by Future Academies Trust which can be accessed via the link http://chng.it/45qnJTyJ
Further Comet articles have been published since: https://www.thecomet.net/topic/Organization/Barclay%20School
A great deal of additional information about academies can be found on the Anti Academies Alliance website https://antiacademies.org.uk/ and particularly in their tool kit http://antiacademies.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/AAA_toolkit_2018_web_pages.pdf