ATL academies checklist

Please note: the ATL website is no longer being updated and will be taken down soon.

Visit the new NEU website

Rep Zone
02 November 2016
This document is intended as a checklist for school reps (and others) where a school expresses an interest in becoming an academy. The checklist details what steps to take to oppose the change of status and how to protect members' interests if the academy goes ahead.

ATL is against the creation of academies as a means to drive up standards and is concerned by the effect on our members' pay and employment conditions, as evidenced in existing academies. You will need to familiarise yourself with the arguments against the move to academy status.

You can do this by reading the ATL academies frequently asked questions (FAQs). Members should also be encouraged to read the FAQs. ATL is mapping all new academies and activity. Please email the academies team with details of the school affected.

The information on this page is divided into the following sections - click the links to be taken directly to the appropriate area:

1. Once you become aware that there is a possibility that your school may apply for academy status, you should do the following:

Check if your school is applying
Has your school expressed an interest in becoming an academy? You can check by contacting ATL or visiting the DfE website.
Contact members, hold a meeting or series of meetings and set up a campaign team
When there is an indication that the school may be considering a move to academy status, initial contact should be made with members in writing, to alert them to the threat. Following on from that, one of the best ways to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be brought fully up to date is to hold a meeting or series of meetings. A meeting should be held jointly with other unions and open to the whole staff community, teachers, support staff, supply teachers, administrative staff and non-members. A campaign team will mean that all work does not fall to one person but that decisions and activity are shared.
Distribute ATL postcard and other ATL campaign materials, and speak to colleagues, parents and community members
For staff and parents to address their concerns to the chair of governors, ATL has also put together FAQ sheets for parents and staff. It is important that the FAQs are distributed and discussed so that as many people as possible are kept up to date with the issues surrounding academies. Additionally a flyer has been produced to promote discussion amongst staff. The flyer could be a helpful tool to generate interest in the topic of academies and could be placed on notice boards, left in staff rooms or anywhere you think it will be read. Ensuring parents are on board with your campaign is critical to strengthening your influence over your school's decision on academy status. Additionally, keeping members of the community informed and on side is another important aspect of your campaign.
Lobby the governing body
The governing body is the key decision-making body in terms of whether your school converts into an academy. Your school cannot become an academy without a vote of the governing body. The ATL academy campaign toolkit provides more detailed information on other resources, including a model petition and model resolution.
Consultation
Schools must consult with "those persons whom they believe appropriate". ATL believes it is essential a school to consult widely if it is considering changing status including staff, parents or pupils on becoming an academy, and to do so prior to any decision being taken.
Attend TUPE Meetings

Schools may attempt to start the TUPE consultative process before the governors have taken a final decision to apply for academy status. Whilst this is neither reasonable nor "best practice", it does not infringe statutory guidance. ATL should always be represented at TUPE meetings - contact your Branch Secretary if you need support.

Lobby councillors
This is important as it can help to galvanise community support for your campaign. Local councillors will have access to various community and special interest groups and will have experience of campaigning which may be helpful to you.
  • Your local authority website should provide you with details of your local councillors, how to contact them and details of up and coming surgeries.
Use the media
You may find that the community your school serves may not know enough about academies to objection to them or simply does not know enough about your concerns to support you. This is why getting your message as wide an audience as possible is important One way to do this is to utilise your local press and radio.
  • You can contact your local paper or radio through such search engines as http://www.newspapersoc.org.uk or http://www.radio-now.co.uk
Elect a rep
Having a rep will be helpful in ensuring that your school is organised and able to run an effective campaign.
Ensure everyone is in the union
When campaigning, size does matter. If we can show that all staff and significant members of the local community are behind us, we have a greater chance of success.
Information for members
It is important to keep members fully aware of what is happening within the school. You should consider whether it is appropriate to hold a meeting of members. Where appropriate, a joint meeting with members of the GMB, NASUWT, NUT, Unison and Unite should be held.
Keep ATL informed
It is very important that you keep in touch with us so that we can ensure that you have the support you require. You should liaise closely with your ATL branch, and you can also contact the ATL London Office via the contact form on the ATL website. Additionally, in order for ATL to work as effectively as possible, up-to-date information is critical, so please keep ATL informed about the status of your school's academy application.

2. Once the government gives the go-ahead for a school to convert, by issuing an Academy Order, then reps and branches will need to ensure that the following issues are addressed.

Attend TUPE Meetings
The TUPE Regulations 2006 require employers to inform and consult representatives of the employees who may be affected by the transfer. Information as to the transfer and the 'measures envisaged' in connection with it must be given. This may be referred to as a 'measures letter', although there is no explicit reference to this having to be in writing. TUPE rules are complex and advice may need to be sought from ATL's London office on specific queries. ATL should always be represented at TUPE meetings – contact your Branch Secretary if you need support.
Secure ATL recognition
If a maintained school is converting to an academy or in the event of an amalgamation of more than one school where ATL was already recognised, then recognition should be transferred under TUPE arrangements. You should do this by submitting the TUC model recognition agreement to the school, preferably in conjunction with school reps from the other education unions. Recognition should be sought/maintained even where there are currently no members at the school. You should also ensure that the school JCNC is established as soon as possible. When an independent school is seeking academy status recognition may need to be sought. You should use the TUC Model Recognition Agreement for this purpose.
Protect existing terms and conditions
Existing teachers will TUPE across to the academy under the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) and the Burgundy Book. Ensure that the STPCD and Burgundy Book will continue to apply to existing and new staff. If the school chooses move away from the STPCD and Burgundy Book ensure that a forum is established to negotiate replacement policies with staff immediately. Clear policies and structures should in place before any new staff can be appointed.
Existing support staff will TUPE across to the academy on their existing terms and conditions. This means that the Green Book will still apply, except in the handful of LEAs who have previously opted out. If the school chooses to move away from the Green Book, you should ensure ( with the recognised support staff Unions) that a forum is established to negotiate replacement policies with staff immediately. Clear policies and structures should be in place before any new staff can be appointed. The TUC Model Recognition Agreement includes both a commitment to maintaining STPCD, Burgundy and Green Book terms and conditions, and to the establishment of a framework for ongoing employer-Union negotiations.
Protect pensions
Pensions are not covered by TUPE transfers. However all academies must provide membership of the Teachers' Pension Scheme or Local Government Pension Scheme to all eligible staff. You should ensure that the school is aware that it needs to provide access to the Teachers' Pension Scheme and Local Government Pension Scheme and that contributions are collected.
Protect union facilities
The continuing provision of adequate facilities for school reps to carry out their role is vitally important, if all other rights and protections for staff are to be maintained. Similarly, access to the academy for ATL branch officers, and the ability of academy reps to hold Branch-wide positions, should also be secured.
Keep members informed
It is important to keep members fully aware of what is happening within the school. You should consider whether it is appropriate to hold members meetings. Where appropriate, joint meetings with members of the GMB, NASUWT, NUT, Unison and Unite should be held.
Keep ATL informed
It is very important that you keep in touch with us so that we can ensure that you have the support you require. You should liaise closely with your ATL Branch, and you can also contact the ATL London Office via the contact form on the ATL website.

3. Once your school has become an academy, it is vital that we continue to promote the rights and working conditions of members within the school.

Secure union recognition

If the principle has not been accepted, or if a recognition agreement, whether based on the Model Agreement or not, has not been signed, you should pursue the issue as a matter of urgency, keeping your ATL branch secretary and the London office informed of progress.

Establish a Joint Consultative and Negotiating Committee (JCNC)
You should get a date in the diary for the first meeting of the JCNC, and then ensure that the committee meets at least once a term.
Identify an ATL rep
Having a rep will be helpful in ensuring that your school is organised and able to protect and promote members' interests.
Attend the ATL reps training course
If not, they/you should consider attending one of ATL's regionally based reps training courses.
Join the ATL Academy reps and contacts Google group
This is a Google-based network, where reps and contacts can discuss the day to day problems of life in an academy.
Ensure everyone is in the union
When campaigning, size does matter. If we can show that all staff and significant members community are behind us, we have a greater chance of success.
Keep members informed
It is important to keep members fully aware of what is happening within the school. You should consider whether it is appropriate to hold members meetings. Where appropriate, joint meetings with members of the GMB, NASUWT, NUT, Unison and Unite should be held.
Keep ATL informed
It is very important that you keep in touch with us so that we can ensure that you have the support you require. You should liaise closely with your ATL branch, and you can also contact the ATL London office via the contact form on the ATL website. In particular, you will wish to take advice if the school seek to undermine the union recognition arrangements, unreasonably restrict time-off for union duties, or depart from the term of the STPCD, Burgundy Book or Green Book.