Consultation: Reigate Learning Alliance

The consultation has now concluded and the results of the consultation are detailed in this document.
Details of the consultation can be found below.  


Reigate Learning Alliance Consultation Response

The consultation on the proposal to form the Reigate Learning Alliance has now closed and this report is the response.
The email account set up for this purpose produced 29 responses:
25 of the responses were from members of staff and 23 of these asked: 
  • Existing arrangements for trade union recognition and for negotiation and consultation within the college will be maintained
  • The college will maintain its membership of the SFCA and its participation in the NJC for sixth form colleges to the greatest extent permitted by its new status
  • Teachers and support staff at the college will in all cases be employed under the "Red Book" and "Lilac Book" nationally agreed pay and conditions arrangements and/or there will be no worsening in current employment procedures following change of status
  • There will be no worsening of the existing entitlements for employees, parents and students to participation in governance following a change of status, to the extent permitted by its new status
  • Existing arrangements for communication, for participation and involvement of staff, for effective and prompt resolution of issues and disputes and for discussion of professional issues such as teaching and learning will be maintained
  • The college will continue to facilitate employees to become union members and to provide facilities for trade union representatives
The text above follows an agreed statement between the Sixth Form Colleges Association, an employer body, and unions representing staff in sixth form colleges. 
An additional staff response was supportive of the proposal without using the text above.
The remaining comment concerned the publication date of the consultation response.
Four further responses were received.
Two were supportive without asking further questions and two others raised a number of interesting questions:
How are the trustees appointed and how many are there? 
A: The articles governing the proposed academy have not yet been finalised, however, it is likely that there will be 12 trustees.  There will be separate Local Governing Bodies for each college and these will include elected parent and staff governors.
Whether it would be in the power of the trustees to sell off part of the Reigate College site for building development or for any other reason?
A: The Trustees do have this power in the same way as the current college corporation has this power at present. However, the college is full, educationally and financially successful and there are no plans to sell any part of the site. 
How universities may perceive Reigate Learning Alliance and how that may positively impact or negatively prejudice future students?
A: Reigate College will still exist as the main method of identifying the existing Reigate College. It is unlikely that universities will be aware of the existence of the RLA. Both Reigate and Coulsdon will have their own, separate exam centre numbers and students will use ‘Reigate College’ as their place of education when making UCAS applications.
How will the Trust’s external relationships be maintained and strengthened when Reigate College disappears off of universities radar? 
A: Following from the previous answer, this will not change relationships with universities. The profile of the college will be raised with bodies such as the DfE and the ESFA – the body responsible for college funding.
Will universities show less interest in competing for Reigate college students? 
A: Universities will be just as interested in attracting students as before.  Universities are constantly competing for students and this is particularly true at the moment due to the decline in applications to universities through UCAS.
Reigate College prides itself (and is a cause for significant parental interest) in its impressive value added position. How will that now be marketed and maintained under a new banner?
A: Reigate College will continue to market itself entirely as ‘Reigate College’ with only minimal reference to the RLA name. The college website, prospectus, letter headings and signage will all emphasise the Reigate College identity. Reigate College will continue to be known as ‘Reigate College’ in the DfE Performance Tables.
Will having Coulsdon College under the RLA improve the trust’s VA overall.....or will the colleges be marketed discreetly?
A: Where colleges form into an academy trust – as opposed to an actual merger – the two colleges retain their separate identities for the purpose of Ofsted inspections and DfE Performance Table entries. Both colleges will retain their own teaching staff, curriculum offers, entrance requirements, partner schools and local governance.


A series of meetings were also held which raised a number of questions and issues:

General concerns raised about bad press of some academies.
A: It is certainly true that some academies have had a number of concerns raised about them in relation to admission criteria, expenditure, exclusion and curriculum offers. The college is keen to stress that it has no intention of acting in the manner that has led to this. The college exists primarily for the benefit of students and the local community.
Will Reigate students have to go to Coulsdon rather than Reigate?
A: Reigate will retain the current admission criteria. No student applying to Reigate will be required to study at Coulsdon. The current partner schools will retain their current status and applicants from non partner schools would have exactly the same criteria as is currently the case.
Concern over school holidays and would the college impose new holiday dates?
A: Reigate term dates are linked to Surrey term dates and this will continue in future. The college understands that many applicants will have siblings in local schools and there is no intention to alter this. It is worth adding that the college will also retain the existing number of days per year that it is open for, lessons will not be introduced on Saturdays.
Would college use incentivisation to get improved performance? 
A: No, the college has no intention of changing existing pay and conditions. 
If FE colleges with HE provision cannot become an academy what will happen with our PGCE provision linked to CCCU? 
A: The issue of FE colleges with HE provision is primarily to do with the funding methodology for HE. The PGCE course will not be affected. 
Concern over future expansion plans. What if current leadership model changed and an empire builder came in in future? What safeguards would the corporation put in place to ensure this did not happen?
A: This would exist as an issue regardless of whether or not the college became an academy. The corporation does not have an ‘empire building’ mentality and would only enter into discussions on expansion if it were clearly shown that there was a sound educational reason for doing so and that this was in the interest of the college. The corporation are well aware of the problems that have been caused in academy groups where there has been a focus on expansion rather than quality of provision.
Concern over pay of CEO/Principal/SLT? What if current leadership model changed and a money motivated/ financially driven leadership team came in in future? What safeguards would the corporation put in place to ensure this did not happen and finance became the main motivation? Could an amount be written in for salaries? 
A: It is for the Trustees/Corporation members to determine leadership salaries. There have been well publicised cases of individuals in both academy schools and non-academy colleges taking excessive salaries. Governing bodies should always ensure that leadership salaries are appropriate.
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