Was the possibility of making Rock Road our Sixth Form and integrating KS3 and 4 onto the SF site in new buildings rather than buying the Towers considered?
The Rock Road site is not big enough for the Sixth Form, nor does it have enough specialist teaching spaces. Shooting Field is not big enough for KS4 and all our KS3 provision (ie Rock Road and Church Street students). The finances required to make this happen would be disproportionate and there is insufficient land at the site as playing field land cannot be used. The Governing Body considered all site configurations as part of the strategic review process. SGS is not buying the Towers, it has it on a long term lease. This site needs minimal work to make it suitable as a Sixth Form site.
Before opening, Bohunt Worthing claimed they'd be teaching part of their curriculum in Mandarin; did this actually happen? Will SGS be expected to follow suit, and where do BET propose to find the staff/CPD time to achieve this if so?
Bohunt Worthing does teach Mandarin. The School is designated as a Confucius Classroom, is part of the government’s Mandarin excellence programme and runs regular trips to China for the purposes of cultural and language immersion. Bohunt Liphook, Bohunt Wokingham and The Petersfield School also teach Mandarin and Bohunt Horsham will be from next September.
Schools within BET would be happy to show what Mandarin teaching (including immersion) looks like and the benefits it brings to students and BET would be happy to support SGS to offer Mandarin if this is a route they think their students would benefit from.
If we weren't to join BET how would SEND look if we remained with WSCC?
There would be no change to the current SEND provision if SGS remained with West Sussex. Although WSCC have intimated that the special funding SGS receives may be cut. There are national struggles with SEND provision and financial support. These would remain post joining Bohunt however being part of the larger Bohunt group means SGS can access their central SEND resource.
I do not yet fully understand the reason that the school is considering academisation (and as quickly as we are). Why is the school academising?
The reasons for academisation are complex. Following Nick Wergan’s resignation, the Governing Body undertook a strategic review of SGS and its future. The starting point was ‘how can we best secure the long term future of SGS as an 11 – 18 provider with Boarding going forward’ The Governing Body looked at the risks the school faces in the future: risks to sixth form numbers due to increased competition, risks to boarding, financial challenges; it was an extensive list. The Governing Body then considered all the possible future pathways (including remaining with WSCC) for the school and the best ways of securing financial security, improving teaching and learning, improving school infrastructure, and providing the best experiences and outcomes for pupils. The Governing Body’s conclusion was that the best way forward for SGS was to look at academising with Bohunt – a local MAT with an ethos and
outlook very similar to SGS who could provide support and challenge and take SGS on its next steps of improvement. This decision was made in principle and will be re-examined on March 11th following the consultation period. The Governing Body has put in place a consultation period which is longer than the recommended one (which is 6 weeks)
I imagine that BET will have done due diligence on the school and seen prospective areas for improvement. What are the key areas for development that the trust see for our school, and how do they intend to address them?
It is too early to say as we are only in the due diligence phase and therefore access to a significant evidence base is not possible. BET always takes time to understand partner school’s needs, which emerge over time. BET is currently meeting staff to allow both SGS and BET the chance to learn what the other does and an opportunity for BET to show some of the support and challenge that they can offer SGS. It’s a process rather than an event.
Will the school have access to more funds after academising, and if so, where from?
BET receives an allocation from the ESFA on a guaranteed basis each year based on pupil numbers. This allocation is in excess of £1m – and the addition of SGS will increase this sum. The allocation is available for schools to bid for across the Trust. The current annual DFC allocation for SGS is about £38k. Past experience would suggest that economies of scale at BET will deliver better value for money and greater localisation will give better support/challenge for monies paid to the organisation the school is part of. BET’s guaranteed capital funding would make applying for capital grants simpler..
If Steyning is rated as a good school currently, from the perspective of a pupil, how will academisation and BET improve teaching and learning? What is BET's track record in doing this?
BET has significant resources on the learning and teaching side that can be used to support SGS: a Director of Education, a Trust Lead for Data, specialist Subject Directors, Subject Coordinators and Lead Practitioners, a Head of Virtual School, a Director of SEND, Area of Need Coordinators and a Director of Outdoors. These key personnel have time to come out and learn about SGS, will have comparative data that will enable quality conversations and a network of schools for SGS to be linked in to in order to spark innovation and the personal development of teachers. In summary, there is significant capacity for quality collaboration that should lead to improvements for students.
Our track record for school improvement is strong:
- Experience of students: All schools in the Trust have broadened the experience available to students, for example: more language options, significant increase in Outdoor programmes, cross-Trust competitions and arts events.
- Results: All schools have seen improving results.
- Ofsted: Of the three schools that joined the Trust with Ofsted grades that could be improved, two have improved (one to Good and one to Outstanding), the other has not yet had an Ofsted inspection.
Is SGS being sold?
No. The Foundation is selling one of the sites SGS operates from. The Foundation will survive any conversion to academy status and will grant Bohunt leases and will enter into a contract with Bohunt which will preserve SGS’s christian ethos and name. Proceeds from the sale of the site will be used to improve SGS facilities.
Will work experience continue for year 12, will it be offered to year 10?
This will be a local decision and again, for BET at this stage it is a learning process.
Will priority be given to school years sitting exams during 2020 and 2021 when changes might happen, in terms of ensuring that teaching staff are permanent, committed staff rather than short term temps should staff be lost?
Yes, as much as possible.
The Headteachers spoke in favour of academisation with Bohunt yet the NEU have said 'the teachers are against' such a move. What do SGS staff and leaders think about academisation with Bohunt?
The Co-Heads are supporting the move to Bohunt and the response so far from teachers and our support staff during the consultation has been mainly positive.
We are aware that some members of the NEU have shared their views about academisation but we are unable to comment on how many.
What is Bohunt environmental Policy and do they have an Eco code?
We see environmental awareness and action as a way of being at BET and it is embedded daily within teaching and learning. We are committed to raising levels of environmental awareness, engagement and positive action throughout the Trust, whilst at the same time decreasing our impact upon it. We have a huge number of environmental engagement and awareness programmes across the BET, with every school committed to sustainability. Initiatives range from abolishing catering styrofoam containers and using wooden or recyclable cutlery across the catering provision, pollination projects, solar powered buildings (Bohunt Sixth Form) and eco-councils to outdoor classrooms, plastic-free days and Healthy Eating weeks. We are actually in the process of updating our statement for the Trust and would love to gauge thoughts from students and staff at SGS to inform it.
Is there an intention to have environmental concerns as a priority with any new building?
We have major budgetary constraints however we are always looking for ways to minimise the
impact of building and to ensure buildings are as environmentally friendly as possible. Church St is
not and this leaving the school building stock will improve things. Also we are looking at some
second hand refurbished buildings for some spare classroom space.
Did Bohunt approach SGS?
No. SGS approached Bohunt.
Is the SGS really committed to nurturing KS3 or is it rhetoric?
SGS is committed to nurturing all the students in its care. SGS is in the process of developing and costing plans for the SF site to ensure its KS3 students who move there will still have some bespoke spaces. Our approach and intent with our KS3 students remains unchanged.
What do SGS teachers think of the Towers?
Those who have visited are overwhelmingly positive.
How will you ensure that current students are not adversely affected during this period of change; especially those at Rock Road who have already undergone a prolonged period of change?
We will do all we can to minimise disruption for all students; teaching and learning are our core business and our focus on this will continue.
The union claims the county council is prepared to give the school a bridging loan. Is that the case?
No; WSCC have not offered SGS a bridging loan.
Will parents and local people have any power or influence over the direction of the school and its land and buildings when Bohunt takes over? Or do we just have to trust them? In other words, will there be a continuing role for the foundation or the governors?
Power rests currently with the Foundation and the Governing Body. The Foundation is a registered charity which will still be in place after any conversion. SGS will still have a Governing Body. The Foundation will grant leases of the School’s land and buildings to Bohunt. There will be a tripartite agreement in place between the Foundation, our Diocese and Bohunt to protect a number of aspects of SGS life: this covers, inter alia, the SGS ethos (which is our Christian ethos), the SGS name, uniform changes, and the SGS governing body.
What will influence the SGS Governing Body’s final decision on the 11th March?
The SGS governing body will review their decision in principle in light of the responses they have received in the consultation process at their meeting on 11/3
As a large state school, SGS currently has a students from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds due to its large catchment area. What reassurances can you give that both the current catchment and this diversity will be protected?
SGS will still be a large state school who will be proud of and encourage its diversity. Bohunt Education Trust (BET) is committed to encouraging equality and diversity among its workforce, and eliminating unlawful discrimination. The aim is for BET’s workforce to be truly representative of all sections of society - including students, parents/carers and staff - and for each employee to feel respected and able to give their best.
The boarding element of SGS brings a very welcome ethnic diversity to the school. What reassurances can you give that, following a merger with Bohunt, this diversity will be protected and that preferential access to the boarding element will not be afforded to students from other Bohunt schools both here in the UK and abroad?
There is no preferential access for SGS students now... boarding operates a fair and transparent access for all provision which will continue.
Are Academies potentially more vulnerable to the introduction of extremist beliefs and faddish teaching methods into the classroom?
Are there any safeguards to make sure that the most experienced teachers will be not be sacked and replaced with a kind of tickbox education via ipads?
BET’s position is that it does not take away from a school and recognises the expertise and experience that teachers have. The Trust adds capacity through subject directors, subject coordinators and across broad areas of need. BET’s approach is about collaborative professionalism rather than centralisation.
SGS currently offers a wide range of both academic and non-academic subjects which is a huge part of its attraction as a school. What reassurances are there that this diversity of study options for children of all abilities will be maintained as part of the Bohunt MAT?
The governing body believes that a new partner will sustain and improve this. It is becoming difficult to protect the breadth of curriculum at Sixth Form given the current climate.