Academy Conversions


Posted by Matthew Smith, 17th March 2016
Since the inception of the academy conversion programme, our Schools team has developed an established practice and reputation for assisting schools through the academy conversion process from start to finish. Our expert lawyers advise on all the legal aspects of converting to an Academy or setting up a free school or University Technical College (UTC).

Our team has acted for maintained schools and academies across the country and has assisted with over 75 academy conversion projects.

Conversion process

Our lawyers are highly experienced in all aspects of the conversion process and can advise on:

Governance

  • Confirming the governing body
  • Company incorporation
  • Advice on the suitability of a single or multi-academy model
  • Trustee/foundation consents local authority consent and or participation in transfer arrangements
  • Directors’ declarations for church schools
  • Governors and senior management team briefings and training as required
  • Taking on additional schools
  • Advising Sixth Form Colleges on dissolution

Funding

  • Funding Agreement
  • Master and Supplemental Funding Agreements

Property

  • Due diligence
  • Report on title
  • Secretary of State’s direction and land registry transfer
  • Shared use arrangements
  • Residential property, e.g. caretakers’ houses
  • Leases
  • Supplemental Agreement for church schools
  • PFI arrangements

School transfer

  • Due diligence
  • Transfer of contracts and/or replacement of contracts
  • Commercial transfer agreement

Employment and pensions advice

  • Due diligence
  • Advice on TUPE transfer and consultation
  • Ancillary employment law and pension advice, as needed

Clients

The team acts for three large Diocesan authorities in the conversion of Church schools and a number of free school projects. We also advise the Church of England and Roman Catholic dioceses on the conversion process for church schools and have advised a local authority on its obligations under the Academies Act.

We act for a wide range of clients including:

Maintained schoolsUniversities
Special needs schoolsFree Schools
Faith schoolsEducational charities
Pupil Referral UnitsEducational businesses
Hospital SchoolsIndividuals
Academies and multi-academy trustsSixth Form Colleges

Significant experience

Examples that highlight the Education team’s broad range of skills and experience include:

  • Advising on the academy conversion of a Diocesan primary school.  This included advice on setting up a multi-academy trust company and negotiating the commercial transfer agreement between the governing body, the local authority and the academy trust company.
  • Advising an established charity on setting up a multi-academy trust company in order to sponsor schools converting to academies.
  • Setting up an umbrella company to act as a holding company for academy trust companies for schools.
  • Assisting a number of special schools on converting to academy status.

Pro-bono work

  • PRIME (one of the founding members of this profession-wide initiative, which creates fair access to quality work experience for young people from less privileged backgrounds).
  • Oxfordshire County Council (providing a lawyer for their School Admissions and Appeals Panel)
  • Several lawyers in the firm also sit as Governors of schools, FE and HEI institutions and educational charities

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