In the third of our series of blogs, which have taken on greater relevance in the light of the Government’s budget announcement regarding the conversion of all schools, we look at the actual process of converting to an Academy.
Although timing can vary, overall the process at present takes typically 3 – 4 months from the school registering interest to officially opening as an Academy. In this short amount of time a vast amount of work needs to be completed and therefore preparation and professional advice is important.
The registration of interest is undertaken online, but prior to that we recommended obtaining legal advice because the first steps include not only completing and submitting the Application to convert, but also the school will need to start the formal process of transferring employees from the Local Authority or Governing Body to the Academy Trust, this is known as the TUPE process. DTM has substantial experience in advising organisations about this process.
Before entering the funding agreement the school must also complete a mandatory consultation as discussed in our previous blog Things to consider before converting to academy status.
The school will need advice on the funding agreement; the school can currently receive £25,000 from the DoE to cover the cost of converting.
The Academy Trust will create a new governing body with more responsibilities. It is important for the Trust to retain and/or elect the most suitable people for the position. As the Academy Trust will create a new entity it will need to be registered at Companies House.
Schools will need to agree leasing arrangements for land and building and create new contracts and agreements to be put in place for suppliers and financial system, as well as registering the Academy with the exam board. This can be complex work, which includes land, employment, commercial and regulatory law and DTM would be able to assist in all of these areas.
In the earlier blogs we quite properly expressed the view that the underlying factor in deciding whether or not to convert must be what is in the best interests of the pupils. In the light of the budget announcement the decision seems to have been taken for schools and the question is when not whether to convert.
There are many tasks that need to be completed before the school can open officially as an Academy and no school (or schools, if considering a Multi-Academy Trust) should go through the process without independent legal advice. DTM can assist in guiding the school through the entire process. For legal advice on converting to Academy status please speak to Duncan McAllister on 01244 354 800 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following our final blog, which looks at post conversion matters, and in the light of the responses to our blogs, we will look as some specific issues in more depth. If you have any issues that you feel would benefit from greater information please contact us.