Converting to an academy

Once you have made the decision to start along the conversion process, there are certain stages you must complete.  

Getting permission to convert to academy status

There are a number of consents that you will need to acquire before you start the formal conversion process, namely:

  • consent from your governing body (in all cases);
  • consent from the Multi Academy Trust (if you are joining a pre-existing trust);
  • consent from your trust or foundation (for foundation schools and voluntary schools with a foundation);
  • consent from your religious body (for church and faith schools); and
  • consent from the Secretary of State for Education (in all cases).

Statutory consultation

You should let various people know about your plans to become an academy, including staff members, parents, pupils, your local authority and any separate special educational needs units or children’s centres that your school may have. A formal opportunity must also be provided for anyone who may be interested in the school’s conversion to consult with your governing body about the conversion plans. Responses to the conversion proposal should then be reviewed by the governing body and suitable action decided upon.

TUPE consultation process

You will be required to consult with your employees about the proposed academy conversion. This is because employees are protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (also known as TUPE). Informal discussions should initially be made with staff by your local authority (for voluntary- controlled or community schools) or your governing body (for foundation or voluntary-aided schools).

Who to appoint?

You will need to consider who the key players will be in the structure of your academy. You will either need to appoint trustees for the academy (if establishing a new academy trust) or decide upon your school’s representation within the Multi Academy Trust. Such representation could include your academy having its own local governing body if you are establishing or joining a Multi Academy Trust.

Land arrangements

Copies of all land registration documents must be obtained and land and title checks must be completed. This will help you to discover if there are any potential problems with the land ownership and whether formal arrangements need to be put in place for sharing facilities. Once the land arrangements are understood, leases can then be drafted, or the land transferred, depending on your type of school.

Contracts

You will need to make a list of all the contracts and agreements that your school’s governing body and local authority hold.  These contracts will later be reviewed in order to decide which should be transferred to your academy trust or re-negotiated.

Banking

You should begin the process of setting up a bank account for your academy, as this can take time.  Once your new account has been set up, this will replace your existing school’s account, and any surplus money in the old account, as well as the academy support grant for the conversion process (£25,000), should be transferred. You will also need to update the Education Funding Agency with your new bank details.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.