Over 80% of schools in England feel pressurised to convert to academy status, new research has found.

A study of over 100 schools in England by HCSS Education, a leading education finance specialist, found that a staggering 82% of schools feel that there is pressure for them to convert to academy status.

However, when teachers and school leaders were asked whether they would actually want their school to convert to an academy, over half of schools (59%) said no.

When asked what their main concern was about the conversion process, 65% stated that staff may be nervous or wary of the change.

Other concerns included losing the support of the local authority (47%), and the school being unsettled during the transition phase (41%). 29% of schools were concerned about the leadership team’s capabilities and 24% had worries about producing a viable business plan.

41% of schools feel that the main reason their school would convert is because they would be forced to become an academy.

However, 82% of schools do approve of the key principles of an academy: that giving heads, teachers and governors greater freedom over their budget can help improve the quality of the education they provide.  59% of school staff would want to convert because it would give them more independence and freedom than a maintained school.

The survey was conducted as part of HCSS Education’s Academy Futures report, which takes an insightful look into how the education landscape is changing and the impact the rise of academies is having on both teachers and parents. It explores the barriers to conversion, the challenges schools may face when they first convert, and how these issues can be addressed.

Howard Jackson, CEO of HCSS Education, said: “After David Cameron set out his vision for the schooling system, stating that every maintained school in England should become an academy, we wanted to find out what the education sector and parents really thought about this, so we decided to conduct our own research to look into the rise of academies and the impact they are having.

“The results of the survey were really interesting and it seems that the pressure from Government is having a significant effect on academisation and is a contributing factor for many conversions.

“However, while the benefits
of greater autonomy are appealing to help improve educational standards, there are still a number of concerns that are perhaps holding schools back from change. Losing the support of the local authority is clearly daunting for schools but how the changes will affect staff and pupils is the number one concern for most.

“Academisation doesn’t come without its challenges. But what is important is that both academies and maintained schools keep their focus on raising educational standards. While greater autonomy and changes to school structures may be a solution, fundamentally it is what is happening in the classroom on a day-to-day basis that is important and will help them to flourish.

“After reading our report, we anticipate that many schools will have more clarity when it comes to understanding the key changes involved in conversion. We hope that the report will also help reassure schools that despite the major changes involved in conversion, there is support and guidance available to help newly-converted academies to find their feet and for individuals to be successful in their transformed roles.”

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Holroyd Howe named Contract Caterer of the Year at the FSM Awards 2015

Holroyd Howe named Contract Caterer of the Year at the FSM Awards 2015

Managing Director Ronan Howe receiving the FSM award for Contract Caterer of the Year from Adrian O’Hare Sales Director, Peros.

Holroyd Howe, one of the UK’s leading independent school caterers, has been named ‘Contract Caterer of the Year’ at this year’s FSM Awards held at the prestigious Lancaster Hotel in London on 23rd November 2015. Managing Director, Ronan Harte was also shortlisted for Senior Executive of the Year and Head Chef Matt Potts was shortlisted for Unit Chef of the Year.

The award, which recognises outstanding companies in the contract catering world, was presented to the Holroyd Howe team at the high-profile event attended by 400 people from the contract catering elite.

The winners of the awards were selected by a panel of judges made up of experts from across the contract catering industry and sponsors of the awards.

Ronan Harte, Managing Director, Holroyd Howe, comments,

“It is a real honour to receive this award for the organisation as a whole. We are very proud of how hard our teams have worked over the course of this exciting  year and this award is testament to that. As a business our focus has always been to deliver creative, delicious food; that engages and inspires pupils, whilst also safeguarding their health and wellbeing. We are delighted that this award recognises that.”

London Grid for Learning to save schools a total of £16m and deliver ‘more for less’ to UK Schools

The London Grid for Learning (LGfL), a charitable trust which serves a consortium of local authorities and schools has signed a record deal with Virgin Media which will enable it to save its schools a total of £16m over 5 years off their current charges, while adding 130,000Mbps of speed to schools’ connections.  By serving as a publicly owned central purchasing body, LGfL helps schools, local councils and other public sector organisations to secure high speed, uncontended connections, sophisticated safeguarding and filtering software, and award-winning educational content, without the burden and delay of running multiple costly tendering processes.

The new contract extension offer has already been launched to the first schools with well over 1000 schools deciding almost immediately to take advantage of more speed for less cost. The very first school to return the renewal to LGfL was Raynes Park High School in Merton.  When asked why the school felt confident to renew with LGfL, Barry Pratt the Projects and Operations Manager said, “The service is really good, particularly since the launch of LGfL 2.0 in 2011.  It’s extremely reliable and there is so much value-added. For myself and our finance team it’s just about one of the easiest decisions we’ve ever made.  We have looked around before and thought we might just about get broadband for the money we were paying then, but when you add in Enterprise-class virus protection, full Exchange email, the curriculum content our teachers use and everything else, there’s no comparison. The new deal – doubling the bandwidth and paying less, is just more good news.”

“There has never been a more important time than this to use London schools’ collective buying power to achieve the best value services,” said Brian Durrant, Chief Executive, London Grid for Learning Trust. “With the right learning tools and technology in place, every child can be empowered to have the best chance in life. A dynamic and technically advanced learning environment will be at the heart of every London school in the future and with this infrastructure in place, a new era of learning can begin.”

“As public sector organisations are faced with ever more challenging efficiency targets, the ability to securely share services across council or government departments will be a considerable benefit. By using London Grid’s new LondonPSN procurement, any Local Authority will be able to avoid the delay and high cost of running yet another procurement and purchase services that will harness efficiencies as well as benefit from more affordable prices,” said Mr Durrant.

For more information regarding the London Grid for Learning including their BETT 2016 finalist nominations please see:


Students from across Northern England are being given the chance to showcase their work before two leading figures in international media, as part of a unique fundraising event.


On January 29, the University of York’s Central Hall will be hosting a charity fashion show featuring the designs of young people from a number of regional colleges and universities.


The Northern Youth Fashion Show, in aid of two refugee charities, will be attended by Katharine Viner, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian and Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue and Artistic Director of Condé Nast.


The event has been has been organised by HARD Magazine, a fashion publication at the University of York, and will not only showcase the designs of students from universities across the region, but will also raise vital funds to support refugees.


Students from the University of York, the University of Sunderland, Leeds College of Art, Newcastle College, Hull College, the University of Central Lancashire, Liverpool John Moores University, and Leeds Beckett University will all be taking part.


It will also include a talk with Ms. Wintour, followed by a question and answer session led by Ms. Viner.


Proceeds from The Northern Youth Fashion Show will be split between the Xavier Project, which runs schools, creates jobs, and offers mentoring schemes to some of the biggest refugee communities in the world and Refugee Action York, which plays a pivotal role in integrating refugees in the local area.


“We wanted to host an event that would highlight the creative talent of students and support the community by fundraising for local charities,” said Ellie Wintour, one of the event organisers.


“It’s fantastic to have Anna and Katharine on board to help make it a success. We are pleased with the positive response we’ve had so far. It’s going to be a night to remember.”


The event is being sponsored by train company Grand Central and a spokesman said they were delighted to be on board.


“At Grand Central, we take pride in supporting young people – whether that is through hosting art competitions for emerging talent or by making student travel experience more enjoyable through our free Wi-Fi offer and affordable with our unique discount,” he said.


“The Northern Youth Show is an opportunity for us to once again demonstrate our commitment to young people, as well as their colleges and universities that are based along our routes.”


Tickets for the event cost £30 and £15 for students and are available at from Monday November 30. A champagne reception and live music performances are included in the evening’s programme.


A “Ticket And A Tin” option is also available, with tickets priced at £10, but purchasers must include the donation of a tin of food to go to a York foodbank.


The evening will also include a champagne reception and live music performances.