The Academies Act 2010 marked a significant change to the academy programme. Under the Act all maintained schools have the opportunity to apply to convert to an academy. Academies are independent state-funded schools. Unlike other publicly funded schools, they are not maintained by a local authority, but have their capital and running costs met directly by central government.
We are at the vanguard of legal developments in assisting schools to convert to an academy. Having already helped many schools convert to an academy throughout the country, we can assist schools on the legal requirements necessary for conversion to academy status either as a standalone school, as part of a multi-academy trust or increasingly as part of a sponsor's family of schools in a multi-academy trust.
Our academies team helps clients throughout the academy conversion process, guiding them through governance issues in setting up the academy trust, funding arrangements, the duties of charity trustees and company directors, property issues, asset transfer, TUPE and pensions issues. We have assisted community and foundation schools in their applications for academy status, and have helped to convert mainstream and special schools and pupil referral units.
We have particular experience in advising on the conversion of Church Schools and have acted for a number of Church of England Diocesan Education Boards in connection with their academy strategy.
The legal documentation for establishing an academy as an independent school involves a web of relationships with responsibilities and accountabilities which need to be properly understood. Key to these are ensuring the availability of funding from the Department for Education and establishing new governance arrangements which complement the academy’s vision and aspirations for an excellent learning environment. Equally important are the business aspects of transferring staff, assets and contracts. Our team provides all the legal support needed for a smooth transition to academy status and to position the school for future success. We can also assist with governance, company secretarial and HR support after conversion.
We are always willing to speak to school business managers and head teachers at an early stage without any commitment and often attend meetings of governing bodies where we can outline the process and the scope of the work involved. We find that the question and answer sessions that develop from these meetings really inform and assist the decision making process for schools.
You can download our guide to converting your school to an academy from our Publications section here.