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Converting to Academy Status: Overview FAQs

1.What is an Academy School?

Academy schools are publicly funded schools which operate outside of Local Authority control.

2. Does a school need to change its name to include the word ‘Academy’?

No, but they can if they wish to.

3. Will we have to pay to convert to Academy status?

A grant (currently £25,000) is available from the Department for Education for expenditure incurred in connection with the process of converting. This is intended to cover legal fees, undertaking due diligence, transferring software licences and new signage and stationery (if necessary). A claim form for this grant is available from the Department for Education. Any unspent grant is likely to have to be returned. Extra grants may be available, for example, for sponsored schools and PFI school conversions.

4. Our school has a deficit, can we still apply to become an Academy?

Yes, although if the school has a significant deficit (whether actual or “in year”), their application may be postponed until they have managed this down to a reasonable level. Any school which opens as an Academy with a deficit will need to agree a repayment plan with the ESFA.

5. Is a consultation required?

Unless a Directive Academy Order has been issued for a sponsored school conversion, it is a legal requirement that Governing Bodies consult with “such persons as they think appropriate” under the Academies Act 2010. We advise consulting with staff, parents and the local community over any proposals to acquire Academy status. An Equalities Impact Assessment should also be considered. The consent of the Diocese, trustees and foundation bodies will be required where applicable under the Academies Act.

6. Can staff and/or parents object to the school becoming an Academy?

As mentioned above, Governing Bodies should consult with staff and parents over any proposals to acquire Academy status. To become an Academy, the Governing Body will be required to pass a resolution and should give due consideration to any representations made by staff and parents.

7. How are Academies regulated?

The Regional Department for Education Directors and their teams and the Education and Skills Funding Agency oversee all academy trusts and monitor educational and financial aspects.

All Academies will continue to be subject to inspections by Ofsted and the results of Academy schools’ public exams will continue to be published.

The financial accounts of the Academy Trust will be audited and copies made available to the Secretary of State for Education. The Funding Agreement anticipates the Secretary of State stepping in if standards at the school start to slip or a “financial notice to improve” is issued.

8. How are Academies funded?

Funding comes directly from central government rather than via the Local Authority. Academies will continue to be funded on a per pupil basis. Academies are funded on a like-for-like basis with maintained schools, with the addition of funding for services that the Local Authority would normally provide. VAT on supplies to the Academy are directly refunded by HMRC. A variety of grants including capital grant are also available to Academies.

9. What role will the Local Authority take in relation to Academies?

Local Authorities will still have a duty to ensure that children in their area receive an education although they won’t have a statutory responsibility for monitoring standards within an Academy.

Local Authorities will still have overall responsibility for ensuring that there are enough places to meet demand locally and will therefore continue to coordinate the admissions system, whereby school places are allocated, although Academies will be responsible for drawing up their admissions criteria in line with the Admissions Code.

10. What services will the Academy have to buy in that the Local Authority currently provides?

Academies need to consider how they will obtain certain services which the Local Authority would have previously provided using additional funding the Academy will receive. Academies may then be free to buy back the services from the Local Authority or find them elsewhere.

11. Can we expand pupil numbers and/or change the pupil age range of the Academy?

Academies will continue to be subject to the Admissions Code. Expansion without the need to carry out building works may in some cases be undertaken without the need for any formal process. A significant increase in the published admission number, or age range, or where building works are required increasing the Academy’s net capacity will require Secretary of State consent (through the ESFA). This would only normally be done following local consultation and in accordance with an approved business case.

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We have helped over 1,500 schools throughout the country convert to academy
status as well as advising on many MAT mergers, SAT to MAT conversions and
academy transfers, acting in connection with all types of schools. We are immersed
in the Education sector and have a wealth of experience to draw on. Our aim is to
ensure you feel supported at all times and you are confident in the decisions you will
be making.


Phone number: 0345 070 4450

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