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Open and meaningful consultation around the proposed MAT in Kings Heath and Moseley.

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Seven schools in Kings Heath and Moseley are proposing to form a Multi Academy Trust.

Academy conversion is an irreversible decision that will remove legal protections for parents and students, affect employment terms for staff, and result in the transfer into private ownership of publicly owned assets. Such a momentous change must only be made following full and meaningful consultation.

The Department for Education’s preferred timetable for conversion, in which formal consultation takes place after a ‘resolution to convert’ is made, was assessed as unlawful in 2011 by Birmingham City Council lawyers. The advice from both Birmingham City Council and the National Governors’ Association is to conduct consultation while matters are at a formative stage.

We therefore call on the Head Teachers and Governors of Kings Heath Primary School, Park Hill Primary School, Wheelers Lane Primary School, Kings Heath Boys School, Queensbridge School, Swanshurst School and Wheelers Lane Technology College to undertake open and democratic consultation with parents, staff and community members before any ‘resolution to convert’ is taken or any application is made to the Department for Education to become an academy or to form a multi-academy trust.

We request that consultation should:

1. Begin with publication of a consultation document.
This should be easily accessible, full and balanced, and include impact assessments of academy conversion for all stakeholder groups and evidence-based consideration of the effectiveness of the other school collaboration models.
2. Provide opportunities for consultees to hear the pros and cons of academy conversion in an open forum (i.e. public meetings in each of the schools as well as joint meetings across the schools) with speakers for and against.
3. Include a ballot of parents and staff.
4. Consult the whole school and broader community including staff, parents, pupils, prospective parents and other community members.
5. Ensure maximum engagement in the process by publishing full details of the consultation process at the outset, using a variety of methods to contact consultees and of ways for consultees to participate.

We also draw your attention to the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into multi-academy trusts. Regardless of your views on multi-academy trusts, I urge you to await the publication of the report and the implementation of any recommendations made therein before any decision to convert is made.

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