If you’re a headteacher whose school is being forced to make the switch to sponsored academy status, you probably assume that all staff jobs are covered by Tupe, legislation that guarantees the terms and conditions of existing employees. But when you meet the broker employed by the Department for Education to discuss the transfer, you may be in for a shock. This is from the Guardian…
“We’re being told directly by heads that DfE brokers are saying Tupe legislation doesn’t apply to them, that a different job of principal would be created in the new academy, and that it would be advertised nationally,” says Rob Kelsall, senior regional officer at the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT).
“We’ve got heads who have been terrified not only by the thought of academy conversion being forced on their school but also that they do not feature in the future of that school.”
In one meeting between the headteacher of a primary in the north of England and DfE brokers, the senior leadership team was given advice that the NAHT says is unlawful and could lead to expensive industrial tribunals.
In minutes of the meeting seen by the Guardian, the DfE broker explains that it’s up to the sponsor to decide whether a headteacher is transferred as principal to the new academy. The rationale is that the role of principal is so different to that of headteacher that advertising the job is justified, should the sponsor choose to go down this route.
Interestingly, it is also suggested by the DfE broker that it may not be in the best financial interests of a head to transfer to the academy. As a new principal, he or she would be rigorously performance-monitored and if it were subsequently decided that the person wasn’t up to scratch in the new position, a compromise agreement with accompanying financial package pre-Tupe transfer would not be offered.