In the second of our series of blogs we look at some of the pre-conversion matters that should be considered before a school converts to an Academy. Whilst the process of converting to an Academy is becoming more common and is very much being encouraged, the guiding principle must still be what is in the best interests of the pupils; and this remains the focus of pre-conversion considerations.
The DoE has published guidelines, checklists and other matters for schools to consider. The key here is that no two schools are the same, so ensuring the school obtains professional and independent advice at the earliest opportunity can be vital to ensure a smooth process.
Many schools will have access to experienced staff and governors but an independent eye will inevitably help to keep the process objective and identify and deal with issues that will arise.
The school needs to consider the impact of conversion in a number of areas and assess the advantages and disadvantages of conversion in those areas. These include how conversion will impact on the curriculum and teaching, finance and resources – from land and building to human resources. Conversion will also impact on leadership and management. Each of these areas will have risks and benefits attached, and these should be considered and understood by the school’s leadership and management. DTM has experience that covers all these areas.
The school will also need to consider what form a conversion will take, whether as stand-alone academy, a Multi-Academy Trust or Umbrella Trust. Talking to other schools, those who have gone through the process, are going through the process or have rejected it, can only add to the useful information available.
Subject to various approvals that need to be obtained such as the Diocese with church schools, although the decision still lies with the school and its governors, a wide consultation should be conducted not just for staff but also parents and carers, and the local community.
Consultation at the pre-conversion stage should also be undertaken with experts and professionals including solicitors to get an understanding of how your new entity will function in the future and what will be the management/governors’ responsibilities.
There are many pre-conversion matters for a school to consider, DTM can assist in taking the school through them. For legal advice on converting to Academy status please speak to Duncan McAllister on 01244 354 800 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep an eye out for our series of blogs on Academies the next instalment discusses the conversion process.