«The conversion journey A step-by-step guide for schools converting to academy status Resource National College for School Leadership Contents ...»
Read everything available and consult informally and openly at an early stage. Ensure that the debate has been explored from every angle before you go ahead.
Register interest A.2: School leaders and C.2: School governing body Register your interest using the online form. The headteacher or chair of the governing body will complete and submit an online registration form and the school will be assigned a named contact within the Department who will provide online support throughout the process of conversion.
Figure 2: Online registration form
The registration form only requires basic information about your school and a named contact. This information will be used by the Department to provide you with details of each stage of the process.
To access the registration form, go to: www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/academies/ primary/register
D.2: DfE A named contact at the Department will work through the conversion process with you.
Once you have completed and submitted the online registration form, your DfE contact will get in touch. This person will have an initial discussion with you on the next steps and will be the person who supports you throughout the conversion process should the governing body decide to proceed with an application.
Our DfE named contact was an excellent support. She helped us through each stage of the process and always got back to us to answer queries. She linked with our solicitors to form an exceptionally strong team, working with us to ensure the conversion was successful and our needs were met.
School leader, primary academy, Lincolnshire Begin consultation A.21: School leaders Convene a meeting of the governing body (you need to give seven days’ notice) to agree the application to convert.
If applicable, discuss your proposal with your foundation and trustees.
When submitting the application, it is important to demonstrate that the governing body has met to consider and has passed a resolution to convert to academy status (see section C.3).
C.21: School governing body When submitting the application to convert, you need to be able to demonstrate that the governing body has met to consider and has passed a resolution to convert to academy status (see section C.3).
Under the Academies Act 2010, governing bodies of schools who want to convert must carry out a consultation on the conversion process with stakeholders. The secretary of state needs to ensure that such consultation has been carried out by the governors before the funding agreement is signed, so it is important to keep records of all consultations and responses and have meetings minuted wherever possible.
− The question for the consultation ought to be: should the school become an academy? It will be for the governing body of the school to determine who should be consulted, although schools should consider involving local bodies or groups who have strong links with the school.
− Schools with a religious designation would be expected to consult their diocesan board or relevant religious authority.
− There is no specified length of time for the consultation but it is important that interested groups, individuals or organisations have a fair chance to respond and ask questions.
− Your school can consult in different ways:
• information on the school’s website about the application with a link to the Department’s website and contact address for enquiries • a letter to all parents/carers explaining the proposals • a meeting with parents/carers or other opportunities to discuss the proposal
• a newsletter for parents answering questions or concerns, and explaining the latest position on the proposal • answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) sent out to stakeholders • responding to requests (in writing) to view the proposals • discussion with students in assembly (or as a form group activity) about what becoming an academy means • student questionnaires • drop-ins and face-to-face meetings Hold informal discussions on Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) C.22: School governing body As part of the process of setting up an academy, staff have to transfer to the employment of the academy trust.
Under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), staff and their representatives have to be provided with information by their current employer about the transfer. For voluntary-aided and foundation schools, the current employer will be the existing governing body. For community schools and voluntary-controlled schools, it will be the local authority.
If the governing body of your school employs the staff, then you should also start preparing to carry out the TUPE process. Formal TUPE consultations cannot start until the governing body has formally approved the proposal to convert to academy status, but you could hold informal discussions with staff and unions as soon as the conversion is proposed. Try to give as much notice as possible to the local authority and employees in this case.
There is no set period legally for how long TUPE consultations should take. But where employers propose changes before the transfer, they must start early enough so that there is time to make a genuine attempt to agree the changes with staff.
For more guidance on TUPE, see BERR (2009).
A.24: School leaders Seek independent legal advice with the governing body.
C.24: School governing body Seek independent legal advice.
− At this stage, think about whether you may need to procure any extra advice on the conversion process, such as legal advice. If you decide that you do require such support, it’s a good idea to plan now how you will procure it. That way, the arrangement will just need to be firmed up once you submit your application to convert.
− Information on funding that you may be able to access towards the costs of specialist advice is provided in section C.395 of the poster and p17 of this booklet.
− Remember when procuring goods and services that you and the academy trust when established, are required to comply with procurement law (Public Contract Regulations 2006).
Choosing the right legal firm was our most important decision in the process. We chose a firm that had prior experience of conversion. We checked out the schools they claimed to have converted and looked for primary experience.
Be sure to question them – arrange a meeting and always involve your finance officer/bursar/business manager and chair of governors.
School leader, primary academy, Nottinghamshire C.25: School governing body At this stage, make sure that the workload is being spread and that the headteacher is fully supported in working through the conversion process.
There is a lot of documentation. Consider whether you need to provide office cover if your existing office staff are tied up with the paperwork. I would recommend visiting a school that has converted in your area and seeing how they managed the process.
School leader, secondary academy, Essex
Alerting the local authority and acquiring land documents A.26: School leaders At this stage you may wish to contact your local authority to tell it that you have registered an interest in becoming an academy to give the authority as much time as possible to collect together the relevant land registration documentation.
B.26: Local authority/diocese Provide the school with land ownership and land registration documentation as requested.
C.26: School governing body Ask the local authority or other relevant landowner(s) to gather land ownership and land registration documentation and information.
Giving the authority plenty of notice of your intentions will help it to identify the right people and provide adequate resources to obtain the documentation you need.
Preparing for transfer of responsibilities C.27: School governing body Begin compiling lists of contracts, assets and other property, service-level agreements (SLAs) and licences held by
a) the governing body of the school and b) the local authority. These will need to be transferred or renegotiated.
The purpose of this stage is for the governing body of the school to make a firm commitment to the school becoming an academy by submitting an application to convert and for the Department to work with the school on a number of areas.
The application will then be submitted to the secretary of state who will decide whether to approve it and make an academy order.
The secretary of state expects to approve most applications, although there may be some exceptional circumstances that have a bearing on whether and/or when the school is able to convert.
Submit ‘Application to convert’ form to DfE C.3: School governing body Submit the completed ‘Application to convert’ form, including confirmation of the governing body’s resolution, the agreement of your foundation and trustees and those entitled to appoint foundation governors (if applicable).
The form is downloadable from www.education.gov.uk/academies.
Email the completed form to your DfE contact at least three months before your proposed opening date as an academy (the opening date is always the first day of a month.) Remember that you need to demonstrate that the governing body has met to consider and has passed a resolution to convert, so attach to your application signed copies of the minutes of the governors’ meeting at which the resolution was passed. If relevant, add copies of the supporting letters from the foundation and the trustees.
At this point, you will also discuss with your named DfE contact your in-principle agreement to support another school to help raise standards.
D.3: DfE Your named contact from the Department will work with you to progress the application to be ready to be submitted to the secretary of state, who will decide whether to approve it and make an academy order.
Confirmation to proceed with application from secretary of state D.31: DfE The secretary of state will confirm whether your school may proceed to the next stage and, if so, will make an academy order.
School land ownership C.32: School governing body It is important to identify early on who holds interest in the school’s land.
E.32: Other stakeholders It is important to contact early on in the process all those who hold an interest in the school land. Voluntary schools and foundation schools with a foundation predating the Education and Inspection Act 2006 may need the trustees and those entitled to appoint foundation governors to agree to the continued use of land and premises for the academy.
Increasing intake B.33: Local authority/diocese Where an agreement has been reached with the local authority for an increase in year groups which will now happen after the conversion, the application needs to include a letter from the local authority confirming this.
The local authority also needs to confirm that it is content for the funding calculation to be based on the new numbers and for appropriate recoupment to take place.
Begin process of TUPE B.34: Local authority/diocese The local authority, as the employer in voluntary-controlled and community schools, starts the formal TUPE process at this stage, prior to the funding agreement being signed.
C.34: School governing body The governing body, as the employer in voluntary-aided and foundation schools, starts the formal TUPE process at this stage, prior to the funding agreement being signed. It is strongly recommended that the employer starts informal discussions with staff as soon as the proposal to convert to academy status is mooted.
As soon as the governing body of the school (and the trustees and those entitled to appoint foundation governors if appropriate) has approved the proposal to convert, the employer can start the formal TUPE process.
It is recommended that this starts as soon as possible to allow maximum time for staff consultation.
Transfer to employee representatives B.35: Local authority/diocese The local authority provides written information about the transfer to employee representatives. As part of the process of setting up an academy, staff will have to transfer to the employment of the academy trust.