Supporting schools converting to academy status

Are you considering a move to academy status, either to form a single academy trust (SAT), to join with others to form a new multi academy trust (MAT) or to join an existing MAT?

With an associate base that is made up of highly experienced education specialists, project managers, marketing specialists, legal and accounting advisers, we can help you develop your vision and operating model. This experience has been involved in the successful development and opening of over 50 academies and free schools. We can support you with the, sometimes challenging, negotiations around land, assets and partnerships. The work plans we prepare will be tailored to the needs of your school stakeholders, locality and community.

If you are at the initial stages of considering a move to academy status we can help your governing body to objectively consider what the move will mean for the school community and the issues to consider. For example we will guide you through:

  • what an Academy is and the core differences relative to maintained school status - the difference between a 'converter' and 'sponsored' academy
  • explore the advantages and disadvantages of converting to an academy
  • the conversion process itself, the issues to consider and what it entails for, and the demands placed on, the school and the governing body
  • academy funding

Once you have passed a resolution to convert to an academy, one of your initial challenges will be to review and amend your governance structure. Strong governance is key in academies. All academy trusts are made up of members and trustees:

Members – who have ultimate responsibility for the trust achieving its charitable objectives. They agree the articles of association and have power to appoint and remove the trustees.
Trustees – who collectively as the board of trustees deliver the three core functions common to school governance:

  1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  2. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent

The trustees must also ensure compliance with company and charity law and with the trust’s funding agreement with the Secretary of State. It is essential that the trustees have the right skills and expertise to undertake these functions. 

We have associates with direct experience of supporting academies in setting up effective and accountable governance structure that represents your individual ethos and aspirations.

From day one, we will:

  • work with you and the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) to streamline the necessary processes involved in conversion and to help you establish a time line for conversion
  • support you in a consulation process to win the support of all your stakeholders effectively and quickly, building a local consensus for change;
  • liaise with the RSC, Department for Education (DfE), the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and your local authority to ensure that your governing body, parents and pupils fully understand the benefits that academy status can bring
  • offer specific advice if you are in an existing federation or trust school or of a religious denomination

Throughout the conversion process, we will:

  • act as your "critical friend" by reviewing the education vision for your new academy - ensuring that it embraces the freedoms that academy status offers, e.g. flexibility in curriculum, lengths of terms and school days, pay and conditions for staff
  • support you in articulating your capability and capacity to run the schools in your trust
  • advise you on how the “top slice” arrangements in a MAT can work most effectively for you through efficiency savings and joint back office functions
  • provide project management advice on the documentation and due diligence that will be required by the DfE
  • provide an individual conversion “check list” in line with the above
  • help to liaise with other schools and sixth form colleges, that may provide support
  • support you through the finance and funding issues and in procuring the range of services previously supplied by the local authority (if required)
  • guide you through building and land ownership issues, lease arrangements and PFI where applicable
  • arrange the legal advice surrounding company and funding agreement issues involved in transition to academy status
  • support you in managing the complexities of staff transfer, including due diligence and TUPE consultation
  • advise on the implications of government policy and emerging policies for your individual trust