Shocking but expected news has been released by the Thomas Deacon Academy (TDA). The flagship senior school in Peterborough, which came in for heavy criticism as the architects omitted to include any form of playground or even outside seating areas...
The Observer, Education Correspondent Geraldine Bedell commented in 2008 :
"I visited one academy, designed by Foster and Partners, on a sunny day when all the walkways (the place is way too modern for corridors) were lit by electric light. The Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough has cost £50m to date: the principal, Alan McMurdo, [ Now moved on: Alan McMurdo is currently Chief Executive Officer of the University of Chichester Academy Trust, academy sponsor of Mill Chase Academy ] says the final bill still isn't in. Following protests from the children about the lack of play space, there are now benches outside, but the dining room is still too small. There are no bells, which McMurdo presents as a positive, educational choice, but he couldn't possibly have all 2,200 children moving around the school together."
TDA are to consult on compulsory redundancies, then axe some 30 staff who have contributed to the partial; turnaround of a frightful academic mess. The newish Chief Executive Julie Taylor ( in old money the Head Mistress ) a frighteningly no nonsense hire and as we reported at the time has an interesting career history.
The PBROTRIB, much to the displeasure of some councillors and the local Tory MP. They of course should have been on top of the situation, but were frankly sleeping at the wheel, and still need a regular poke if only to check for vital signs.
But as some local politicians and possibly the MP might not be around after May we need to drill down and find out just what is happening at the TDA. Buried away on the TDA website is a master class in public relations and corporate speak: TDA Proposed Reorganisation FAQs
It seeks to pre-empt any questions parents and others may have so the PBROTRIB has balanced the purpled prose with an Ofsted Report. Bearing in mind an Academy is a hard nosed business, reporting to a Board of Directors, it is little wonder the clear out of underperforming staff is now underway.
THE OFSTED WRITING ON THE WALL
Inspection report: Thomas Deacon Academy, 10–11 July 2013
This is a school that requires improvement.
It is not good because:
Students do not make as much progress as they should, particularly in English.
Standards and progress have improved in mathematics, but there is further to go before achievement is good.
The sixth form requires improvement.
Not enough students attain higher grades in Year 11, 12 and 13 national examinations.
Teachers do not always set students work that sustains their interest and challenges them.
The work for more-able students is not always demanding enough.
Marking is not always regular or helpful in giving students sufficient guidance on what they need to do to improve their work.
The use of skilled and expert questions by teachers to extend students’ learning and check their understanding is not yet a routine feature across the academy.
The academy leaders’ work in developing teaching and learning has not had sufficient impact in making sure that students make good progress, and that students’ work is properly and regularly marked and assessed.
There are weaknesses in the oversight and monitoring of the English department.
Not all teachers give students the opportunity to use and apply their literacy and numeracy skills across different subjects.
TDA Proposed Reorganisation FAQs
Why is the Academy reorganising now?
Our priority is to provide the highest quality education possible for all of our students within a safe and stimulating environment and we will strive to not only maintain this but to constantly improve it.
There has not been any comprehensive restructure since TDA was opened in September 2007 when three schools were amalgamated to form one larger academy, nor was there any ‘cost cutting’ as a result of the ‘Credit Crunch’ in 2008.
Having a reorganisation of the staffing structure after seven years without change is now essential. TDA has the potential to be an outstanding Academy and to do that we need to consolidate and progress the improvements already implemented over the 2013/14 academic year when we achieved our best ever results.
In addition, as with other public bodies, government funding for education will be reduced further for the 2015/16 academic year and beyond and it is therefore necessary to concentrate our resources in order to not only maintain our existing high standards but to further improve upon them. During the last three years our funding, direct from government has reduced by an average of 3%. We anticipate further reductions of at least this level for the next three years. All main political parties have indicated continuing funding cuts.
How many posts will be lost?
We currently employ 364 (288 FTE) staff. Of these 167 (151 FTE) are teachers and 197 (136 FTE) are associate staff.
Our 46 day consultation period with staff starts on the 12th January 2015 and no more than 33 posts, 9% of our workforce is at risk. It is hoped that natural wastage and voluntary redundancies will account for as many at risk posts as possible. Normal staff turnover within the Academy runs between 12% and 17% per annum.
If you had your best ever results in the academic year 2013/14 why are you changing the structure?
We have taken the opportunity to review the Academy’s structure over the last academic year in order to fully assess what works well and where improvement is required to help us to move the Academy to an outstanding category. This has involved a combination of internal review and external reports.
We now need to focus on greater accountability within the system to help us push towards outstanding and the reorganisation is intended to provide clearer, more defined accounting lines for both teachers and associate staff. In addition, we need to provide greater motivation within the system and our new pay for performance scheme and a clearer progression path based on rewards for performance will complement the planned reorganisation.
So, exactly what form will the reorganisation take?
Obviously this cannot be fully defined until the consultation process is complete on the 27 February 2014 but it is intended that the senior posts will be appointed first followed by the next layers of leadership and management posts and then people will be job matched where possible into the new organisational structure.
Is TDA in financial difficulties?
Absolutely not! Regardless of the government funding cuts TDA would have gone ahead with the reorganisation anyway in order to help achieve an outstanding category, help motivate our staff and not just maintain but improve our quality.
The Academy has a strong balance sheet. It continues to invest heavily in capital for our students as evidenced by the Junior Phase, Exams Hall, Construction training Centre, Sixth Form Centre and a rolling IT replacement strategy. By improving our pay to income ratio we will be able to direct better our resources to where the children need them the most.
It has been reported nationally in the media about the financial challenges facing all schools. These include pay rises, raised national insurance and pension contributions, mounting heating and lighting bills, as well as increased examination costs.
We do have to take the funding cuts into account as does every school in the country and feel that it is better to act prudently now rather than drastically later in this respect.
How will you know if the reorganisation has worked?
We will be closely monitoring the situation to ensure that our quality standards are maintained and improved and that the greater accountability within the management structure is achieving our objectives. Research will be conducted at a suitable time after the implementation in September 2015 and the biggest indicator of success will be that more children than ever make better progress. This has already begun to happen with the small changes we have already been able to make.
When will the restructure be implemented?
The consultation with the staff opened on the 12th January 2015 and this process will take 46 days; we will then submit any refinements to the original plan to the Board on 4 March 2015
We hope to have an approved final reorganisation by the 6th March 2015. After this we will need to follow an agreed process of selecting staff for new and ring-fenced posts as well as slotting in those staff who are a direct match.
The reorganisation will be in place for the start of the new academic year in September 2015.
How will the students benefit from the reorganisation?
We want every child and young person at TDA to receive the best quality education.
The reorganisation is designed to ensure a consistent application of our policies across the whole academy and this together with increased accountability for our staff will help to improve academic performance and behaviour both within and outside of the Academy premises. Increased progression opportunities for staff and performance related pay will also provide a highly motivated workforce that is fully committed to working towards the academy gaining an Outstanding OFSTED rating as soon as possible.
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