«The conversion journey A step-by-step guide for schools converting to academy status Resource National College for School Leadership Contents ...»
− Full details can be found in the model articles of association available on the Department’s academies web pages.
− Schools with a religious character that convert to academy status can take account of faith when appointing staff, subject to the same restrictions as when they were maintained schools. In terms of admissions, they would also be able to give preference to children of their particular faith when oversubscribed.
The governors manage the academy on behalf of the academy trust. Their 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 − employ staff − comply with (and ensure that the trust complies with) charity and company law − manage and comply with the obligations in the funding agreement − where the school has a religious designation, maintain its faith ethos
Memorandum and articles of association C.42: School governing body Complete a memorandum and articles of association and submit in draft to your named DfE contact.
Once approved, file the documents online to register the academy trust with Companies House.
D.42: DfE Your named contact at the Department will provide advice and guidance on completing the model documents needed for conversion.
The funding agreement The funding agreement is the legal contract between the academy trust and the secretary of state that both parties will enter into once they are satisfied that all the documents and arrangements are in place for this to happen.
It is a standard document and is straightforward to complete (a model version is available on the Department’s academies web pages). The trust will be asked to sign it to confirm that it is content with the terms and conditions within it and the agreement will then be put to the secretary of state for signing.
Before then, the governing body of the school must satisfy itself that the consultation required by the legislation has been conducted and completed.
This means that all the parties the governors judged should be consulted have been given the chance to express their views and that the governing body itself has had an opportunity to consider the views expressed on whether the school should convert to academy status.
A.43: School leaders and C.43: School governing body Ensure you understand fully all aspects of the funding agreement, the steps required to progress it for signature by the secretary of state and it becoming the legal basis for opening the academy.
You must submit a draft funding agreement to your named DfE contact for approval. Once this is confirmed, the academy trust can sign a final version and return it to the named contact.
At any point before signing the funding agreement, the trust can decide not to proceed if it believes that conversion would not, after all, be in the school’s best interests.
Have a project manager and a work schedule for all the changes. Put the time and legwork into looking at alternative sources for key services such as lawyers, accountants, HR and payroll, banks and financial software.
Choose services that are competent, professional and feel a good fit with your school. You have to feel comfortable with them and be able to trust them. Realise early on that the people you meet may work for large organisations (in some cases) but getting good personal rapport (from yourself and your key staff) will repay itself many times over in the months and years to come
Appoint the accounting officer C.44: School governing body Appoint the accounting officer, who must be the academy principal and a responsible officer to monitor and check the academy’s financial management.
Land transfer C.45: School governing body Instruct your lawyers to deal with the legal arrangements for the transfer of land. There may be particular circumstances when a school wants a certain outcome, such as shared arrangements, for example, and you will need to instruct solicitors very specifically.
D.45: DfE The Department will support the governing body and headteacher to ensure that all legal documents are completed relating to governance, land, property and staff transfer and company registration.
E.45: Other stakeholders The school’s lawyers will need to need to complete a questionnaire on the school’s land which covers ownership and usage of all land held for the school.
The Department has issued detailed guidance on the transfer of land to schools converting to academy status, and lawyers will need to study the guidance to ensure that the correct treatment of the school’s land is proposed.
The latest version (version 9.0) is available from the Department’s website: www.education.gov.uk/schools/ leadership/typesofschools/academies/primary/steps/a00204988/land-guidance The Academies Act 2010 contains specific powers for the secretary of state in respect of the land of schools when they were maintained schools. The aim is to provide some protection for the public element of any mixed-ownership and publicly funded land on the closure of the academy or other disposal, and to safeguard any investment made by the public purse in the fabric of buildings or in the land itself prior to conversion.
Completion of outstanding building works C.46: School governing body If there is any outstanding building work due to be completed after academy conversion, the parties involved must agree who is responsible for it to ensure that unfunded liabilities do not pass to the academy trust. This agreement should be sent to the named DfE contact for approval before the funding agreement is signed.
Shared use agreements C.47: School governing body If there is shared use of facilities on the school site, an agreement will need to be drawn up and additional time assigned to what could be a lengthy process.
E.47: Other stakeholders Where there is shared use of facilities on the school site (for example, a sports centre), an agreement will need to be drawn up by all parties and submitted to your DfE contact for approval before the funding agreement is signed.
Repayment of loans B.48: Local authority/diocese Draw up a legal agreement with the trust for the transfer of responsibility for repaying any outstanding loans.
C.48: School governing body If your school has received a loan from the local authority, liability to repay the loan would normally transfer from the current governing body of the school to the academy trust. In that case, a legal agreement between the local authority and the trust should be drawn up. Before signing the funding agreement, the secretary of state would need to be confident that the academy could afford repayments and that both parties had agreed to the loan being transferred.
C.49: School governing body If your school has received a loan from the diocese, then the transfer of responsibility to repay the loan should be reflected in a legal agreement.
D.49: DfE If your school has a diocesan loan then you will need to discuss this with your DfE contact.
E.49: Other stakeholders The transfer of responsibility for the repayment of a diocesan loan needs to be reflected in a legal agreement between the diocese and the trust.
Commercial transfer agreement Below is a synopsis of what needs to be undertaken in respect of the commercial transfer agreement. Discuss this with your solicitor, who will have the detailed legal knowledge necessary to ensure that all requirements are covered.
B.491: Local authority/diocese Discuss the commercial transfer agreement with the local authority where appropriate.
C.491: School governing body The commercial transfer agreement should be discussed with the academy trust and, where appropriate, the local authority.
D.491: DfE This stage of the process is completed when the academy trust and the secretary of state sign the funding agreement for the academy.
The funding agreement will stipulate the date on which the academy will open. The local authority will cease to maintain the school from that date.
Commercial transfer agreement
− The commercial transfer agreement is designed to ensure that all information on the staff who are transferring to the academy is recorded and transferred to the academy trust, so that appropriate arrangements for the payment of salaries, pension contributions, etc can be made.
− It also includes details of any assets or contracts that will transfer to the trust and details of those that will not.
− A model agreement is available on the Department’s academies web pages.
− It is not necessary but it is desirable for the commercial transfer agreement to be signed prior to the funding agreement.
− Take this opportunity to discuss any contracts between the local authority and external suppliers and whether the academy trust wishes them to be transferred by the local authority to the trust.
− The finalised, signed commercial transfer agreement needs to be sent to your named DfE contact.
Teachers’ Pension Scheme B.492: Local authority/diocese The local authority will provide the name of the relevant pension authority which presently administers the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).
C.492: School governing body The Teachers’ Pension Scheme is administered on behalf of the Department by Capita Teachers’ Pensions (TP).
The Department notifies TP about each academy’s approval. TP then supplies the academy with information about the scheme.
D.492: DfE The Department will notify TP about the academy approval and will prompt the TP to supply the academy with information about the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
E.492: Other stakeholders Teachers’ Pensions supplies the academy with the relevant information about teacher pensions.
Academies’ funding agreements require them to offer Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) membership to all non-teaching staff. When a maintained school becomes an academy, staff who are already members of the LGPS will be unaffected and their membership of the LGPS will continue. After conversion, any new non-teaching staff will also be eligible to join the LGPS. More information is available on the Department’s academies web pages.
E.493: Other stakeholders After conversion to academy status is complete, any new non-teaching staff will be eligible to join the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).
Insurances C.494: School governing body The academy must be insured from midnight of the date of conversion so that there is continuity of cover.
Academy trusts are responsible for making insurance arrangements.
The main types of insurance cover to be arranged are:
− premises and contents insured at replacement cost against damage by subsidence, fire, lightning, explosion, storm, flood, riot, malicious damage, terrorism and similar risks − business interruption − employer’s liability and public liability insurance − statutory motor transport insurance More details on insurance can be found on the Department’s academies web pages.
This stage focuses on the final preparations for opening the academy. Most of the major tasks should be done or near to completion. Now you will need to ensure that all legal requirements are completed, that external bodies and agencies have been contacted and are fully aware of the school’s new status, and that you have registered all the relevant information. This will ensure a smooth transition to academy status on the day of opening.
Data protection registration, establishment number andunique reference number
C.5: School governing body Notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in writing that the academy is opening. There is a £500 fee payable to the ICO for this.
Governors will now be responsible for processing personnel and pupil data. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.
The information provided will be added to the Information Commissioner’s register, which is available to the public.
There is more guidance on the ICO website: www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/data_protection/notification.aspx.