My school wants to convert to an academy, where can I find out more?
This website has the most up-to-date information available on how to become an academy.
You will need to register your interest via an online form and provide contact details. The Department will contact you with guidance and information on the next steps. You will be assigned a named person to support you throughout the conversion process.
What is the role of the academy trust?
An academy trust is a charitable company responsible for the running of the academy and has control over the land and other assets. It has a strategic role in running the academy, but delegates day-to-day management of the school to the governors.
As an academy, will I still work with the local authority?
Academies are independent schools and not maintained by the local authority. However, being at the centre of your community, you will want to work with other schools and local partners.
Does a school need to change its name to include “academy”?
Many current academies do include the word ‘academy” in their title. If they choose to do so, schools can keep broadly the same name replacing “school” with ‘academy’ in their title to maintain a clear link to their former name. Schools can also keep the same uniform / school badge / colours etc.
Will an academy be under constraints or new expectations that the local authority would previously have exercised?
Academies have freedom from local authority control, which means that they have autonomy over the decisions they make and the education they deliver to their pupils. They also have the freedom to change the lengths of terms and school days, set their own pay and conditions for staff, and freedom from following the National Curriculum. There is a range of services that were previously provided by the local authority that academies will now need to provide. A list of these can be found in the academies funding section of the website.
Will all academies be covered by the FOI?
Academies are not currently public authorities under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (2000). However, the Government intends to extend the scope of the FOI Act to provide greater transparency. A Government amendment was tabled to the Academies Bill which seeks to extend the FOI Act to cover academies. Lord Hill has written to all schools that have registered their interest in converting to academy status to inform them. Lord Hill’s letter to schools is available to download from this website. It also includes details of other Government amendments tabled. For maintained schools converting to academies, we expect that the FOI Act will apply from the autumn; for existing academies, we expect it to apply from January 2011.
Which schools can apply to become academies?
Only schools (primary, secondary and special schools) that have been rated outstanding overall in their most recent Ofsted inspection are eligible to convert to academies through this process. Register your interest on the online form.
We are not an outstanding school but want to become an academy – can we apply?
Not yet. All schools will eventually be eligible to apply to be considered for academy status but the applications for all other schools will open at a later date in the year. There will be a further announcement on this process. However all schools are encouraged to register their interest in becoming an academy and we will ensure they are kept informed and provided with any help that is needed.
We are a primary or secondary school – when can we open as an academy?
We expect that the process could take a minimum of three months so (subject to the successful passage of the Academies Bill) some schools could open as academies from September 2010. Schools can also choose when they would like to open to suit their needs, but for most schools this will be at the beginning of the autumn or spring term.
We are a special school – when can we open as an academy?
The process for special schools to become academies will take a little longer to develop, but we expect they could open as academies from September 2011. If your school is rated outstanding you can still register your interest in becoming an academy.
My school has a religious designation – will we be able to retain it?
Yes. A school with religious designation will be able to retain it.
Do you expect my school to support another school to raise attainment?
Outstanding schools will be expected to sign up in principle to support another school to raise attainment. However, arrangements do not have to be in place before opening as an academy. This will be discussed with you in detail once you are assigned a named contact.
Academies currently have at least one specialism in a curriculum area – will that still be the case for schools converting?
This will be the case for secondary schools – those converting to an academy will be required to have an emphasis in one or more subject areas.
My school currently has a deficit balance – can it still become an academy?
Schools with a budget deficit that wish to convert to academy status may still do so, although if they have a significant deficit their application may be postponed until they have managed this down to a reasonable level. When a school with a deficit is approved to convert, the Department will pay the local authority an equivalent amount, and recoup this through a reduction in the recurrent funding paid to the academy. Detailed guidance will be provided on the procedure to be followed by the LA and the implications for its own position.
Can nursery schools convert to academy status?
The announcement set out how the Government plans to open up the Academies programme to allow all maintained schools to seek academy status. According to the law, academies are independent schools that are state funded. To qualify as an independent school, a school must have at least five pupils of compulsory school age. As nurseries cater for pupils below compulsory school age, this new policy will not be applicable in their circumstances.
Why can’t short-stay schools (pupil referral units) apply for academy status?
The Department is currently considering the legal framework covering PRUs. They will be discussing this with all PRUs and alternative providers in the next month.
What happens if, during the application process, an outstanding school is inspected and receives a ‘good’ judgment?
Your application will be put on hold and reconsidered once the application process for all other schools converting to academy status opens later in the year. We will provide further details on the requirements and criteria relating to this group of schools in due course.
Decision to become an academy
Does my school need agreement from the local authority?
Your school will be free to discuss its plans with any local partners, including the local authority; however, the proposed legislation will remove the need for the LA to approve your plans. All that will be required is a resolution passed by the governing body. Once the Secretary of State has confirmed that your school will become an academy, subject to the successful passage of the Academies Bill, he will direct the local authority to cease to maintain it.
Does my school have to hold a consultation with students, parents and the local community?
In converting to an academy, we expect all schools to discuss this intention with students, parents and the local community to ensure they understand the change proposed. However, no statutory consultation is required.
Does my school have to hold a consultation with staff?
The current employer of school staff (either the local authority or governing body depending on the type of school) will need to conduct a TUPE consultation with all staff (teaching and non teaching) and the unions as part of the staff transfer process.
I am a parent/teacher and don’t want my school to become an academy – what can I do?
All schools have a staff and parent governing body representative. We suggest that you contact them in the first instance, because to become an academy the governing body will be required to pass a resolution. As best practice, schools converting will be encouraged to keep staff, students and parents informed as proposals develop.
Process and support
What is the process for becoming an academy and how long will it take?
More information on the process and timetable is available here.
What other processes might a new academy be expected to follow during the transition period, and what support would be given to it?
Key steps the schools must take are all explained in the guidance, and may differ according to the type of school and who owns the buildings and land. As a minimum, all schools converting must:
establish their trust as a company – registering with Companies House
establish a new bank account for the trust to ensure that the academy will be able to receive funding
transfer, renew or procure new contracts, SLAs and licences and purchase insurance as appropriate.
Schools can discuss the details of these and other steps with their named contact.
Will there be some form of central support to advise and assist new academies in their start-up beyond that already available?
The conversion process has been made as simple as possible for all schools, with only legal requirements/statutory measures needing to be undertaken through the conversion process. We therefore intend this to be a light-touch process with minimal support required. However, if you need help, please do let your named contact know so we can see if any further assistance or guidance can be given. Once open, responsibility for the academy will pass to the YPLA where, again, each academy will have a named contact. The YPLA is preparing a handbook for all new academies to assist them in the first year of operation.
What funding will be available to help schools become academies and how can schools claim the money?
We recognise that schools may incur costs such as obtaining legal advice on the documents necessary for setting up the academy, advice on the process for transferring staff, and new signage and stationery. As a contribution to these costs a flat-rate grant, normally £25,000, will be payable to the school’s bank account.
When DfE receives notification of a school’s intention to convert, a claim form will be provided to enable a claim – supported by a brief case for the claim – to be made.
Why aren’t you funding the whole cost of the conversion process?
We believe that it is fair that schools which intend to acquire academy status should devote some of their own resources to the process. This gives them an incentive to keep costs to the necessary minimum over and above the DfE support and also minimises the impact on the education budget for all schools.
What happens if the school does not spend the whole £25,000? Does the unspent balance have to be returned?
No. The balance can be spent by the academy as part of its overall income, once open.
Can the school make a later claim for additional support if it finds, well into the conversion process, that costs are much higher than initially expected, for example if there are legal difficulties?
Yes, although the school will be expected so far as possible to have absorbed the extra costs itself, and any late claim will be assessed in the light of that.
What is the legal basis of the grant?
The grant will be paid by the Secretary of State under s.14 of the Education Act 2002.
Admissions and school places
What are the admission requirements for schools converting to become academies?
Outstanding schools converting to become an academy will be able to retain the admission criteria they currently use. These arrangements and related processes should at all times comply with the School Admissions Code.
When a school becomes an academy, the academy trust will become the admission authority. For some schools, such as foundation and voluntary aided schools, this will mean little change, but for community schools and voluntary controlled schools the academy will need to manage its own admissions process. This will involve periodic consultation, and regularly publishing the academy’s admission arrangements.
My school is an outstanding grammar school – can I remain selective as an academy?
Any outstanding school which is currently a maintained grammar school or uses partial selection (such as for aptitude in a specialist subject) will be able to retain its selective arrangements.
My school is a faith school – can we continue to give priority to children on the basis of religious affiliation?
Any outstanding school which currently admits pupils, or a portion of pupils based on faith will be able to retain those arrangements.
If a school reopens as an academy in September, what impact will that have on secondary transfers/places already allocated?
All existing maintained schools and academies will have finalised their admission arrangements for September 2010 by April 2009. Moreover, offers for entry in September 2010 will have been made on 1 March 2010. New academies will therefore be required to honour any offers for their predecessor maintained schools.
What happens to existing admissions appeals when we convert?
These will still need to be heard by an independent appeals panel. For community schools, we advise that the local authority continues to arrange this process immediately after the school converts to academy status to hear outstanding appeals whilst the academy trust is establishing its own independent panel. Voluntary-aided and foundation schools will already be responsible for setting up an independent appeals panel and so the situation remains the same on conversion.
Will existing all-ability academies be able to bring in academic selection?
No. The Bill will allow schools that already select all or some of their pupils on the basis of ability to continue to do so. It does not provide for existing academies to become selective.
What guarantees do grammar schools have that their selective arrangements will not be removed once they convert to academy status?
No grammar school will lose its right to select pupils by academic ability as a result of converting to become an academy. We are committed to ensuring the same rights are accorded to parents and the same protections afforded to grammar schools on conversion as they have enjoyed while the school was a maintained school.
We are aware that neither the grammar schools ballots legislation, nor the provisions that allow governing bodies of grammar schools to bring forward proposals to remove selection, apply directly to academies, but we will ensure we mirror the current situation, within the funding agreement, for maintained grammar schools which have converted to become academies.
Would academies be part of coordinated admissions with the LA?
Yes, all academies continue to be within coordination i.e. the process for allocating school places to children. This means that parents/carers only need to complete one application form (but they can name several schools on it). Parents/carers will be given an offer of a single school place. Using secondary coordination as an example, parents will apply to the LA on 31 October. The LA will send a list of applicants to the schools by a date agreed in the locally agreed coordination scheme (this is owned by the LA who agrees it with all its schools). The schools then rank the applicants against their oversubscription criteria, and send a ranked list back to the LA. The LA then coordinates admissions across its schools and with neighbouring authorities and offers parents their highest available preference on 1 March.
Will academies have to be a part of the in-year coordinated admissions scheme? e.g. when the LA needs to find places for families that have relocated to the area, etc.
Academy funding agreements require them to be within local coordination. That means that although the school will apply its admission arrangements, the LA will send out offers. From 2010/2011 local authorities will also coordinate admissions for in-year applications and from 2011/2012 for applications for year groups other than the normal point(s) of entry. This will not affect the academy’s right to determine which applicants have priority for admission. Academies are also required through their funding agreements to participate in in-year fair access protocols.
Will LAs still have the responsibility for planning for additional places when there is a growth in student numbers within an area?
Local authorities will still have overall responsibility for ensuring that there are sufficient places to meet demand locally. Where individual academies make a request to the Secretary of State to expand their pupil numbers and/or age range, this will only be done following local consultation. The decision taken will be informed by the views of the LA, as the commissioner of pupil places.
Who is responsible for setting any catchment areas when a school converts to become an academy?
The academy is its own admission authority. That means that it becomes responsible for its own admission arrangements. If it has a catchment on conversion it retains that catchment until it decides to change it. The LA cannot change an academy’s catchment area even if it has previously done so when the school was a maintained school.
If the academy does decide to change its catchment it will need to consult on the change alongside its other admission arrangements in line with the requirements in the Admissions Code (an eight-week consultation with local schools, parents, the LA, etc. between 1 November and 1 March, determining the arrangements by 15 April in the year before the one to which the arrangements are to apply , so April 2011 for September 2012 admissions, informing consultees within 14 days of determination).
Any catchment must serve children of different abilities from the area.
Federations and trusts
What is the process for schools in federations and shared trusts to convert to academy status?
If an outstanding school that wishes to convert is in a hard federation with another school (or number of schools), then that governing body may submit an application to convert covering all the member schools of that federation, even where some or all of the other schools are not outstanding in their own right.
There is no need for the schools to go through the formal “de-federating” processes. Once the schools have converted, the maintained federation simply ceases to exist as the schools themselves no longer exist as maintained schools, having become academies, and the federated governing body will have dissolved as part of the conversion process. Once the schools concerned have obtained academy status, they will then need to establish a successor academy federation, for which model documentation will be available, and there are no regulations to meet.
Heads of several outstanding primary schools in a local area are interested in exploring how they might all convert to academy status and become a group, possibly a single academy trust. Can a group of schools apply?
Yes. If outstanding schools wish to convert to academies under a hard federation arrangement as a group, this will be possible. Each school applying will need to provide a separate application-to-convert form, as we’ll need confirmation of the governing body resolutions and an understanding of the likely land/funding issues faced by each in turn. It is at the point of funding agreement at which the federated arrangements must be set in place with a single overarching trust for all schools and local governing bodies for each separate establishment.
Do we have to have a different academy trust for each school in our federation?
We do not necessarily expect schools to have a different academy trust for every academy. It is possible for academies to operate under a federation arrangement which is similar (but not exactly the same) as federations of maintained schools. There is no reason why the same people could not serve as members on more than one academy trust, provided there are no issues around conflict of interest.
My school is a trust school. Are there any extra processes we have to go through to apply?
Yes. Trust schools are foundation schools. A voluntary or foundation school needs the permission of their foundation or trustees. There may also be some complications associated with land transfer that we would need to work through once you have applied.
Can the original trust just convert to become the academy trust without re-registration?
Foundation and trust Schools will be required to set up an academy trust for the purposes of running the academy only. This is in accordance with the Department’s model Memorandum and Articles of Association. There is no reason why the original trust members cannot serve as members of the academy trust. Once established, the new academy trust would still need to be registered with Companies House.
Would the trust board sit above or below the board of the multi-school trust?
Where academies are part of a hard federation they will typically have a single overarching academy trust. This trust has legal responsibility for all schools it operates and the land and buildings they occupy. This overarching trust then delegates responsibility for school running to local governing bodies, i.e. one for each school within the federation. Where you have an existing trust arrangement covering a number of schools, you may need to consider how your existing structure can be adapted to fit into the arrangement described above, for example identifying which members of your trust will become members of the academy trust.
Will the Department provide any start-up funding?
There are no plans to provide start-up funding to the new academies.
How much extra funding would an academy expect to receive from money that would normally go to the local authority?
The funding will be based on the level of local authority funding already calculated for the school, plus additions for central services that would normally be provided by the LA and to cover VAT. Grant payments to academies to replace local authority services depend on the level of central spend in the LA, and can vary considerably from area to area. Please see the ready reckoner which will give schools an estimate on the funding they might receive.
Given that September will be part-way through the financial year, and LAs have already allocated budgets to schools and top-sliced the budgets for the full year , will schools converting in September get any further resource for the remainder of the year (a pro rata top-slice allocation from September)?
Yes. Further details will soon be available.
Will schools be worse off financially if they convert to academies?
There are currently more than 200 open academies and the Department is not aware of cases where a school has been worse off financially after converting to an academy. The general principle is that schools are no worse of as Academies than they would have been as maintained schools. academies are funded on a like-for-like basis with LA maintained schools, with the addition of funding for services that the LA would normally provide and additional grant to cover VAT.
Will my school get a VAT grant?
Yes. Academies get a VAT grant. We are expecting that a formulaic VAT grant would be paid to the new converters as for existing academies.
Will there be a VAT top-up grant based on historic spend information? Will it be adjusted to take into account changes from 15% to 17.5% to possibly 20% in the future? Does this top-up grant cover all capital expenditure costs too?
The grant is based on historic spend information and covers recurrent funding; it does reflect the 17.5% VAT rate.
Will there be an insurance top-up grant? Approximately how much is this?
Insurance will be paid for as a reimbursement item, not as a formulaic grant. Costs vary widely depending on a school’s location, claims experience and type of building. A typical premium is between £60,000 and £100,000.
Are there limits to running a deficit as an academy? Is there a legal limit to this?
Academies are not allowed to run a deficit without remedial action. Any that open with a transferred deficit will need to have an agreed plan with YPLA to repay it from GAG instalments. Any which develop a deficit after opening will have to agree a restructuring plan with the YPLA.
Who will schools hold discussions with concerning projected future pupil numbers?
The academy lead officer contact point in the YPLA.
Can a foundation school just keep its existing accounts and change the names of them, given that they already run their finances autonomously?
No. The money in the existing delegated budget account belongs to the LA even if arrangements are made to pay over any surplus. The academy trust must open a new account to receive YPLA funding.
Is the “general” Local Authority Central Spending Equivalent Grant given for pupils in Years 7 to 11 or Years 7 to 13?
It is given for all pupils at an academy. There are separate rates for primary (up to Year 6) and secondary (up to Year 13) pupils.
Can academies access LA centrally negotiated contracts, e.g. energy/ banking/ insurance?
If they wish to do so, academies are quite free to buy services and supplies in from the LA or regional purchasing consortia, although some LAs may not feel able to offer insurance.
Schools need to produce accounts that comply with the Companies Act. How are these different from current DfE returns via county, can you say a bit more about them?
The accounts are completely different from CFR returns and need to follow charities and company law requirements. The accounts are normally for an accounting period ending at 31 August. They can be completed by the school bursar but the school may need to buy in expertise if there is insufficient experience of doing such accounts. The software requirements really depend on the volume of transactions, and professional advice should be sought. Academies, accounts have to be audited by an external auditor appointed and paid for by the academy; this takes place in autumn each year.
Will academies get their funding level agreed for three year periods?
At this stage, we will only be able to tell academies about their funding level for the first year. There are two reasons for this: (a) future funding levels for schools across the board will be dependent on the Spending Review in the autumn, so we can’t say anything in advance of that, and (b) the Government will be consulting on changes to the school funding system , including the introduction of the pupil premium , shortly; again, it’s not possible to commit to funding levels in advance of that. In terms of multi-year budgets in the future, this is one of the things the Government will need to consider as part of its review of school funding.
Will academies still be funded per pupil?
Yes. They’ll still be funded on the same principles as before.
What kind of financial records would we expect academies to have?
There is a finance handbook which has references to the type of records existing academies are required to keep. We expect a similar level of financial accountability would be required of new converters.
We already have our own bank account, do we need to set up a new one?
Yes. The funds in the current bank account belong to the LA, even though there will be provision to pay over the surplus. The academy trust needs to set up its own new bank account to receive YPLA grant payments
What will the responsibilities of the governing body be?
The governing body will be responsible for establishing the academy trust. The academy trust (a charitable company limited by guarantee) will then enter into a funding agreement with the Secretary of State for the running of the academy. The academy trust (made up of members) has a strategic role in running the academy and will be responsible for appointing the governors (also known as directors or trustees) to the governing body of the academy. It is the governing body that manages the academy on behalf of the members of the academy trust. The key responsibilities are to
ensure the quality of educational provision
challenge and monitor the performance of the academy
manage the academy trust’s finances and property
It will be for the members of the governing body of the school to decide and agree, in discussion with the Secretary of State, who among them would wish to be members of the academy trust and which of them would wish to be governors of the academy trust (note that it is possible to be both a member and governor).
What is the role of the academy trust?
An academy trust is a charitable company responsible for the running of the academy and has control over the land and other assets. It has a strategic role in running the academy, but delegates management of the school to the governors.
What are the rules around membership of an academy trust, including numbers, make-up, and selection process?
The existing governing body, foundation body or trust will form the academy trust, which will then appoint the governing body. Although there is no limit, we would expect the academy trust to comprise at least three people , one person appointed by the Secretary of State (should he choose to appoint), the Chair of the governing body and any additional members appointed by the members, if unanimously agreed by the members of the trust.
What are the governing body’s and the sponsor’s respective roles in an academy?
Outstanding schools converting to academy status will not have an external sponsor. The current governing body will therefore establish an academy trust, which is responsible for the strategic running of the academy and has control over the land and other assets. The management of the academy is delegated to the governing body.
Academies used to have outside organisations sponsoring them is that still the case?
Not where an outstanding school is converting to academy status. A school’s governing body can establish the academy trust. However, it will be free to work with any external organisation.
Do these new academies still have to set up an endowment trust and seek contributions from others?
There is no requirement for outstanding schools converting to academy status to have an external sponsor, and no contributions are expected. It does have to have an academy trust, but the governors can set this up themselves. There is no barrier to such a school working with a sponsor if it wishes, but there is no requirement to do so.
Will becoming an academy increase burdens on volunteer school governors as they take on functions previously discharged by the local authority? Will this make it harder to find school governors?
There are many similarities between the governing bodies of maintained schools and academies. We believe that volunteer school governors will still be able to fulfil their role in academies and that this will not make it harder to find governors. We would also expect academies, as with all schools, to provide the necessary training and support to governors to ensure they are able to fulfil their duties.
Will academy governing bodies continue in their current form? Academies have replaced governors, particularly parents, with unelected corporate and business sponsors.
There is no requirement for outstanding schools converting to an academy to have an external sponsor. We value the role of parental engagement in schools. The current model articles of association say that academies must have one local authority governor and at least one parent governor; however, no decisions have yet been taken on the composition of future academy governing bodies.
Will the new Bill mean that in the future there will be a range of academies, each with a different legal basis?
All academies will have the same legal basis (clause 1 of the Bill), irrespective of whether they’re sponsor-free academies, academies with a grant rather than a funding agreement, grammar school academies, SEN academies, or primary academies.
Do ‘converter’ academies still need to register with the Charity Commission?
No, subject to Parliament passing the Academies Bill. Under the charitable status clause of the Academies Bill, academies will be exempt from registration. Instead a Principal Regulator will be appointed to ensure that academies comply with charity law.
What are the rules around appointing the governing body?
The governing body will be appointed by the academy trust. The process for governor elections is set out in the articles of association and agreed between the academy trust and the Secretary of State. There will be no maximum size for the governing body. However, when negotiating the size of a governing body we do advise that large numbers can make governing bodies unwieldy and difficult to manage.
Membership of the governing body should include at least one parent governor and the principal, but academies are free to choose whether to have for example a local authority governor, staff governor or co-opted governor. If there is a sponsor then we would expect the majority of governors to be appointed by the sponsor, and for predecessor voluntary and foundation schools converting to academy status, the foundation or trust may appoint the majority of governors.
If a school currently has 11 foundation governors, these could remain (if the new academy trust wanted them to remain). The remaining governors would be made up from at least one parent, one LA governor (optional) and co-opted governors.
What will the responsibilities of the governing body be?
The key responsibilities are to:
ensure the quality of educational provision
challenge and monitor the performance of the academy
manage the academy trust,s finances and property
It will be for the members of the predecessor school governing body to decide and agree, in discussion with the Secretary of State, who among them would wish to be members of the academy trust and which of them would wish to be governors of the academy trust (note that it is possible to be both a member of academy trust and governor).
How much additional responsibility and liability is involved for the governing body and how is it protected/insured?
The academy trust (a charitable company limited by guarantee) is the legal entity that will be responsible for the running of the school and entering into contracts. The academy trust will be able to take out employers, liability insurance (like any other employer of staff). Liabilities to external parties would ordinarily be those of the academy trust (a company with a separate legal entity and not the governors themselves). Under the articles of association, the academy trust is required to provide indemnity insurance to cover the liability of its governors. The members of the academy trust will be liable to contribute up to £10 if the academy trust is wound up. As the academy trust is a charitable company, the governors are also directors and charitable trustees, and will therefore need to comply with obligations under company and charity law.
Are there plans to expand on the role of academy governors (compared to that of other school governors)?
There are no plans at present to make changes to the role of academy governors.
Will I get a new build?
Academy status does not automatically mean capital investment.
The Department has not taken any decisions on future capital programmes but the Government is determined to make sure that any capital expenditure achieves the best value for money and the greatest impact at the front line. For this reason, the Government is committed to a full comprehensive spending review in the autumn.
How would we go about getting capital funding for recurrent capital costs or major refurbishment such as a new roof, sports hall?
Capital funding programmes for academies for any work beyond the initial construction for 2010 converters are still under consideration (except that academies, like maintained schools, receive Devolved Formula Capital). The academy is entirely responsible for all its capital requirements, including health and safety, although it may seek grant aid.
What will happen to existing capital maintenance schemes such as Local Authority Coordinated Voluntary Aided Programme (LCVAP) Devolved Formula Capital DFC?
Up to the end of March 2011, existing capital programmes will be unaffected by any switch to academy status. No decisions have been taken about any capital programmes from April 2011, but we expect that capital will be at least as readily available to academies as to other schools.
A sample school for BSF is about to sign the contract. What powers will the Act allow for the new academy? Can they refuse/delay to accept the transfer of (‘novated’) BSF contract and, if yes, how will that affect the rest of our BSF plans?
The contractual mechanism in place is anticipated to remain until the building is complete through BSF and will then be novated to the academy trust.
A school has already had BSF work started, and wanted to know if the client on the contract could be changed from the LA to the academy trust. How can this be done?
The client, being the LA, will remain in place until the building is complete through the designated process. It is envisaged that the newly established academy will then enter into an arrangement with the LA on either a novation or back-to-back arrangement minimising any risk to the academy trust. TUPE will not be a material issue in this transaction.
What will the financial impact of having academies be on local authorities?
It is right that academies receive funding to recognise the responsibilities they take from local authorities and that local authorities funding also reflects this. We will be talking with CLG and local authorities about how to manage the impact on local authorities to ensure they are equipped to carry out their functions.
What can LAs do to support academies?
Local authorities have a considerable pool of expertise available to help academies with driving up standards. They can also support schools which want to work together to share expertise and promote the spread of effective innovation. Academies will have the freedom to buy back services from the LA where they are high quality.
Will schools which continue to be maintained by local authorities be disadvantaged compared to academies, particularly with regard to funding?
Funding of academies will be broadly comparable with that of maintained schools, taking into account their additional responsibilities. While converting to academy status will give schools additional freedoms, those who opt to stay within local authority control will not be financially disadvantaged.
What form of relationship do you see existing between the LA and new academies?
This is for individual academies to determine , there is no statutory requirement for any formal relationship between LAs and academies beyond LA statutory duties such as SEN statementing, admissions coordination and provision of home-to-school transport. However, LAs are expected to play a key strategic role locally and there will be significant advantages to partnership working, for example planning 14-19 provision or sharing good practice locally. Many academies will chose to keep existing LA representatives on their governing body.
Will the powers of the LA in relation to monitoring school standards be repealed?
The LA will retain responsibility for those schools maintained by local authority control, overseeing their performance and financial arrangements. However, they will not have any such responsibility towards the performance of new academies within their boundaries.
Will LAs get any support for conducting lots of TUPE and land transfer activity?
There is no support planned for LAs to carry out this work. We expect that HR teams within local authorities will have the necessary expertise to advise on these processes in general.
What happens to schools forums in a LA?
The regulations which govern the establishment of schools forums clearly set out that where a local authority has academies within its boundaries, these should be represented on the schools forum. Typically we expect there to be at least one member representing all the academies locally, rather than a representative of each.
Can the school alter teachers’ pay and conditions?
When a school converts from a local authority maintained school to a new academy, staff are entitled to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions. As an outstanding school, immediate changes to the staff structure and operation are not anticipated. However, once open, the academy trust may consult with staff and their union representatives on changes to these terms and conditions, for example to enable the academy to operate over different term times or change the length of the school day.
If we become an academy, do we have to take responsibility for pension arrangements of teachers instead of the LA?
Teachers working in an academy fall within the scope of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), just as if they were employed in a local authority maintained school. Staff transferring from a maintained predecessor would simply continue their membership of the Scheme. As the employer, the academy would be responsible for remitting contributions to the TPS and for all other administrative responsibilities that fall to employers who employ teachers who are subject to the teachers’ pensions regulations. Teachers’ Pensions, who administer the Scheme on behalf of the Department, can be contacted direct on 0845 6066166 or at http://www.teacherspensions.co.uk and will provide you with full information about the role and responsibility of employers in relation to Scheme administration.
Who can provide advice on the TUPE process for schools?
We expect that HR teams within local authorities will have the necessary expertise to advise on the TUPE process in general. There will be further detailed guidance on how schools converting to academy status should follow this process on the DfE website shortly.
Is it possible to comply with the statutory consultation period on TUPE in time for September 2010?
There isn’t any definite period prescribed by statute for consultation under TUPE, but the period must be generally sufficient to give time for an agreement to be reached with the staff. How long this will take will vary from school to school and case to case. There is no minimum 10 week period as some have suggested.
However, we are advising schools wishing to convert by September, and who will have made a formal conversion request by the end of June, to start the relevant consultation as soon as possible.
What about pension arrangements for support staff?
Non-teaching staff at schools fall within the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). As the employer, the academy would be responsible for meeting the employer contribution. Academies are obliged to offer LGPS membership to staff and again, staff transferring from a maintained predecessor school would simply continue their scheme membership. Unlike the TPS, there are a number of component schemes within LGPS, with the local authority acting as pension administrator. The employer contribution rate may be different from that payable by the LA. Academies mandatorily fall within the TPS and LGPS but it would be open to an individual member of staff to opt out of the TPS or LGPS, as the case may be, if they preferred to make other pension provision for themselves.
How will the TUPE process work, and what specific responsibilities does the school have?
A: The school needs to tell the LA of its intention to convert.
B: The employer is responsible for informing and consulting staff (see Question 5).
C: The LA does due diligence and passes staff details to the academy trust.
D: The academy trust writes to each member of staff confirming that they will transfer under existing terms and conditions. E: The LA or other employer gives indemnity for the period staff worked for them, normally as part of the asset transfer agreement.
Where school governing bodies are responsible for doing the TUPE (and not LA) what are the statutory requirements e.g. who must be consulted and how long should consultation last?
There is no statutory obligation for the governing body to consult unless it is planning to make changes to working conditions or staffing before the transfer. If the obligation applies then the recognised trade unions must be consulted or, if there are no unions recognised, employee representatives must be elected. There is no minimum period of consultation specified, but consultation needs to take place before any decisions are made.
Even if the statutory obligation does not apply, it is best practice to consult staff and their representatives and to allow 30 days for this consultation. Governing bodies and local authorities should also check whether there are any local agreements with unions as to how TUPE consultation should be carried out.
In all cases there is a statutory obligation on the current employer to inform employee representatives (i.e. the recognised union or, if there isn’t one, elected representatives) of certain matters in writing. These are:
the fact that the transfer is to take place
the date of the transfer and the reasons for it
the legal, economic and social implications of the transfer for any affected employees and the measures which the employer envisages it will, in connection with the transfer, take in relation to any affected employees or, if it envisages that no measures will be so taken, that fact.
The academy trust must inform the current employer in writing of any measures which it envisages taking in relation to staff after the transfer (such as changes to working conditions), and the employer must also pass this information on to employee representatives.
How will we get HR and payroll services?
As an academy, you will take on responsibility for many activities currently provided by your LA. HR and payroll are examples of this. Through the conversion process you will need to decide whether you wish to continue to buy this service from your LA or consider other providers locally through a competitive procurement process.
Special educational needs and exclusions
If a school that is applying contains a key part of a local SEN provision, will it be expected to continue to provide that service if it becomes an academy?
It is our expectation that existing educational provision in the school will transfer to the academy. The local authority will need to agree the transfer of land and assets (if applicable, for example in the case of separate SEN Units) with the school and to carry out TUPE negotiations. The LA will therefore be part of the conversion process and will have the ability to influence the outcome of that process.
Can a child with a statement nominate an academy as their school of choice?
Yes. Outstanding schools converting to become academies will be able to retain the admissions criteria they currently use. These arrangements and related processes should at all times comply with the Schools Admissions Code.
Does becoming an academy change the way in which exclusions are dealt with?
Academies are required by their funding agreement to follow the law and guidance on exclusions as if they were maintained schools. This includes reporting exclusions to the LA. However, academies do not have to consult the LA before deciding to exclude a pupil and they can arrange their own independent appeals panel.
Land and premises
How do I acquire the land for my academy?
This will depend on the type of school that you are and the nature of the land. Further guidance will be available shortly and your named contact in the Department will support you through this process.
Will the land and buildings transfer be freehold or will it be a long lease as is currently the case with most academies?
The intention is that the transfer will be on a 125-year lease from the LA as at present, but there may be special circumstances in individual cases. We hope that the terms of transfer will continue to be arrived at by negotiation, but, as at present, the Secretary of State will have the power to direct the transfer of public land if necessary. Nothing in the Bill affects wholly private land, such as that held by the trusts of most voluntary aided schools. In such cases the existing trust will negotiate the terms of transfer to any academy trust. This could involve leasing the land directly to the academy trust or leasing it to the local authority, who would then sublease it to the academy trust.
Would schools be able to open as academies with unresolved land issues and get these resolved post-opening?
No. In advance of entering a legally binding agreement to deliver an academy, we would want a clear agreement on leases and land issues.
Will academies be free from the Ofsted inspection regime?
The Secretary of State has announced that schools previously judged outstanding will no longer be subject to routine school inspection. However, that does not necessarily mean that they will never be inspected. The performance of all schools will continue to be monitored and if there are signs of deterioration or other factors are a cause for concern, these could trigger an inspection. Further details will be available in due course.
Other than outstanding schools which convert to academies, we expect that other academies will continue to be inspected in the normal way, except where they have already undergone a full inspection and have been judged outstanding.