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.


“Parallel Learning Trust (PLT) is an alternative provision academy which provides education for pupils who are unable to access mainstream schooling including a hospital school classroom service at Kings College Hospital, all located in South London. Our 70+ staff were formerly known as AEP Lambeth.

Conversion to academy status as Parallel Learning Trust allows us the opportunity for greater innovation and the potential for expansion, building on the standards of education practice already achieved.

Geldards’ London Team led by Owen Willcox advised on the foundation of the academy trust and a subsidiary community interest company for trading purposes, the funding agreements and premises arrangements. Geldards also advised on the TUPE transfer of staff, assets and contracts to PLT and service level agreements for services commissioned by the Council.

This project involved complex, difficult and protracted negotiations. The Geldards team provided clear and practical advice and helped us to overcome a number of issues which could have prevented us from converting. We were very pleased with their commitment and skilful support in helping us achieve our goal of becoming an autonomous academy.”

Richard Leonard, Executive Head Teacher, Parallel Learning Trust

“At all stages of the process we kept our staff up to date with what was going on and they were very much part of the early discussions about reasons for converting to an Academy. Communicating with staff to ensure full understanding of the process and the TUPE process really smoothed things over and staff were very much in favour of converting. Having a supportive HR provider really helped. I would recommend Geldards to anyone going through an Academy Conversion as they kept me fully briefed on the process too.”
Joanna Martin, Headteacher - QED Academy Trust

“When converting to an academy it is very important to find a law firm that works at the same pace as you. I like to work on a ‘now’ basis and it is very fortunate that they seem to have the same attitude. So they put me under the same pressure as I put them under, and I think we were both better for the experience. We are using them for additional work in our expansion because we have got other schools joining us.”
Phil Haigh, Director – The Eden Academy

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Kim Howell


Partner, Cardiff

+44 (0)29 2039 1473


Paul Hilsdon


Partner, Derby

+44 (0)1332 378 351