On Friday we sent out an important letter (see below) regarding the future of both Heavers Farm and Selsdon Primary schools. Our Thought for the Week is for you to let us know what you think about the proposal for Heavers Farm to join formally with Selsdon in a Hard Federation.
Selsdon and Heavers Farm – Proposal to form a Hard Federation
Heavers Farm Primary School is a good school. That is not just our opinion but the official rating given by Ofsted in our last inspection. Our pupils love coming to school, our parents’ survey in 2013 also supports the official report and we attract amazing teachers and support staff.
But we are striving for better!
You may be aware that since September 2013 we have been working closely with Selsdon Primary School allowing our Headteacher, Susan Papas, and other staff to work alongside the staff at Selsdon to exchange ideas that help them improve the quality of leadership and teaching.
The partnership has allowed the staff at Heavers Farm to benefit from this arrangement. In view of the benefits that both schools have gained through this process, the Governing body at Heavers Farm would like to continue to build upon this great work by putting in place a more structured framework that would allow both schools to achieve the best for pupils and the community that each serves.
Federation versus Academy
The Governing Body considered two frameworks to support this partnership. We considered, but discounted, converting to an academy. Whilst we could see many benefits from working with another school, there did not seem to be strong reasons to do this as an academy as we could achieve the same benefits in a federation arrangement.
For instance, we have no intention of using any of the additional freedoms allowed to academies (for example, we have no intention of employing unqualified teachers or extending the school day). Additionally, as more schools convert to academy, the support and financial benefits, in the long term, have reduced. Finally, it was felt that, given the huge amounts of work put in during this school year, another overhaul of school and leadership team could be disruptive.
At a recent Full Governing Body meeting it was agreed to recommend to you the parents and staff that Heavers Farm joins Selsdon to form a “Hard Federation”.
What is a Hard Federation?
Within a Hard Federation there would be one governing body and one overall Headteacher (who would become “Executive Headteacher”). The leadership teams at both schools will overlap in some areas, but both schools will maintain their unique characters, they will have separate DFE numbers, their own Ofsted inspections and separate budgets.
We believe that that the reasons for forming a federation include:
- Ms. Papas has been successfully supporting both schools since September 2013 and has ensured that the groundwork has already been laid, including introducing new policies which are now being embedded.
- The relationships between staff (at all levels) at both schools are being established.
- There are already established areas where we might reduce costs to both schools e.g. IT management, staff training, contracts and SLAs, shared staff posts etc.
- The relationship between the governing bodies has been established including mentoring support between the schools.
- The relationships between the leadership teams at both schools is well established.
- The quality of teaching continues to improve since September 2013.
- There are joint leadership and professional development projects underway between the schools including training planned for this term. This will provide high quality training by staff from the Institute of Education for staff from both schools.
What will this mean for my child?
There are lots of things that won’t change. For example your child’s teachers will not change and there will not be any changes to the school day. The school name will remain the same and we will continue to be a Local Authority maintained School.
Our staffing structure, which was amended this year, will not change any further and the leadership team will remain as it is now. Susan Papas will become permanent in her role as overall Executive Headteacher with Andrea Cousins continuing as Head of School and being responsible for it on a day-to-day basis.
There are no major differences that are likely to affect you as parents. In the future the overall governance of both schools will be undertaken by one federated governing body; we believe this will provide added benefits to the children in both schools.
We see federation as giving pupils the following benefits:
- sharing expertise between schools – this further strengthens teaching and learning and subsequently improves pupil progress;
- it helps secure the financial future of both schools by sharing resources, for example equipment and staff;
- staff’s professional development, career progression and retention across the federation will be enhanced;
- staff in both schools will share ideas, planning and good practice to provide a rich and informed curriculum;
- pupils will be able to receive a greater range of experiences such as trips, visits and residentials allowing them to develop wider friendship groups, especially as they move towards secondary school;
- both schools will plan to sustain high quality leadership in to the future;
- both schools will have greater resilience to unforeseen problems that may develop during the year (such as an unexpected long-term illness of a key member of staff); and
- a combined governing body will provide strategic leadership for the federation by drawing on experiences from both schools, utilising governors’ expertise and skills for the federation’s best interest.
The Governing Bodies of Heavers Farm and Selsdon are working on the finer details of this plan and will be writing to you shortly with formal proposals. After that there will be a 6-week consultation period. In the meantime, if you have any initial comments please feel free to send them to:
The Clerk to the Governors
c/o Ms Tina Marola
Senior Administration Officer
Heavers Farm Primary School
58, Dinsdale Gardens,
020 8653 5434
marked “Federation Consultation”.
Graham Cluer Susan Papas
Chair of Governors Executive Headteacher