Answers to our members’ questions on the
Version 10: 18 February 2011
This is the tenth edition
of our Q&As on the Academies Act 2010.
This edition has been updated to include at Annex guidance for governing
bodies on carrying out consultation.
continue to update the Q&A as more information is available. If you are not a member of NGA, and wish to
be kept up to-date, do join NGA by clicking on Join
NGA. Our members have funded this resource.
The full text of
the Act and its associated Explanatory Note can be found via the attached link
- Academies Act and Academies Act Explanatory Notes
The Department for
Education has a dedicated section on its website relating to academies - DfE
Academies Information. They have
produced Q&As DfE
Academies Q&A and guidance for schools wishing to convert DfE
How to become an Academy. The DfE
continue to update their information which can be found via the attached link -
This Q&A aims
to include advice and guidance for governing bodies considering undertaking the
process with particular emphasis on the issues a governing body needs to
consider before making a decision; whereas the DfE guidance in effect starts
from the point of the governing body having made that decision. We are not going to repeat all that is
contained in the DfE guidance and therefore those considering converting should
read both documents.
NGA has contributed
to a Local Government Information Unit publication on the Academies Act 2010:
for further details about this booklet or to purchase copy:
Question 1: What is an academy and how is it
different to other state schools?
Answer: Academies are classed as ‘independent’ state schools; they are
charitable companies limited by guarantee.
Rather than being directly funded and accountable to the local authority,
they are funded and accountable to the Secretary of State.
Academies have an
Academy Trust which is responsible for the land and assets of an academy. It is possible for the members of the Trust
Body and the governing body to be the same.
bodies are not subject to the same Governance Regulations (constitution,
procedures, staffing) as maintained* schools.
The make-up of an academy governing body is determined by its Articles
of Association and the majority of the governing body may be appointed by the Academy
*Maintained schools are those funded by the
local authority, that is, community, foundation, voluntary aided and voluntary
Question 2: What process do I have to follow
to become an academy?
Answer: The DfE has published information on the academy conversion process and
the steps involved. This can be viewed
via the attached link – DfE Academies Application Process
Registering an interest: The first step is to register an interest
with the Department for Education (DfE).
Nearly 2000 schools have already registered an interest. The DfE has published a list of those who
have done so – which can be viewed via the attached link - Schools which have registered an interest in
interest does not commit the school to becoming an Academy. It does mean that the DfE will provide the
school with a named contact which will enable access to the information the
governing body will need in order to make an informed decision as to whether to
apply for academy status.
Making an application: It is only once the school has applied that
it is ‘committed’ to seeking Academy status (see also question 21) There is no
rush to do this. Schools can apply for
Academy status when and if they are ready to do so.
Whether or not to apply
is a governing body decision. Although
the headteacher may have registered the initial interest in becoming an
academy, no application can be made unless the governing body has taken a
resolution at a meeting. (See Question 7
for further NGA recommendations on the process the governing body should
follow). The NGA believes that
converting to an academy is a significant step which requires considerable
thought and consultation (see Question 4) and schools should ensure they are
clear what academy status entails before
Once schools have
applied, the process of conversion is likely to take a minimum of three months – the school has to set up a
Trust Body, negotiate its Funding Agreement with the DfE, put a bank account in
place and consult its employees in accordance with the Transfer of Undertakings
(Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) (see Question 4c). However the process can take longer if there
are legal complexities. For example, if
the school was built under a PFI contract or is part of a federation the
conversion process is likely to take longer than three months.
Although any school
is eligible to register an interest, initially the DfE was only considering applications
from those schools judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. In November 2010 the application process was
opened up to schools judged to be good with outstanding features. These schools
are classed as ‘pre-approved’ whereas additional criteria for conversion may
apply to other schools. These criteria
have not yet been published.
Schools which do
not fall into these categories may apply as part of a joint arrangement with an
outstanding school or a good school with outstanding features.
Special Schools: From January 2011 outstanding special
schools have been able to apply for Academy Status. There is a section on the DfE’s Academy
information which applies specifically to Special Schools. This can be found via the attached link - DfE
Special Schools Q&As
What should the governing body be doing?
Firstly, there is no
requirement for the governing body to do anything. Academy status is optional; there is no legal
requirement for the governing body to consider an application.
If the governing
body decides to consider academy status then it should ensure that it has all the relevant information it needs
to make an informed decision. The NGA
recommends that governing bodies should set up a working party to gather all
the relevant information (see question 7).
This Q&A covers
some of the issues which will be pertinent to all schools, but individual governing
bodies will need to make sure they have information specific to their own
circumstances. In particular, but not
exclusively, the governing body should make sure it has the answers to and has
considered the implications of the following questions before deciding whether
to consider making an application.
- What difference would converting make to children in the classroom
and their opportunities?
- What freedoms would the school want to use and how? And are we sure
that this cannot be done as a maintained school? (see question 10)
- What additional responsibilities would the school take on (see
question 9) – and how would this impact on schools staff and the governing
- What local authority services would the school lose and how would
the school commission replacements?
- Does the school currently have the capacity and capabilities within
the staff group to commission and manage services effectively (for
example, the DfE is recommending that staff should include a qualified
accountant), and if not, how is this to be rectified and what would be the
- What are the financial implications of academy status, including
the approximate costs of the additional services the governing body would
have to provide for the school? (see question 11)
- What other school or schools would we support and in what way (see
questions 6 & 28)?
- What would the Trust Body look like?
- How would the governing body be made up?
- What additional potential liabilities would the governing body have
if they took on Academy Status? (see question 19)
- What were the results of the consultations carried out with the key
stakeholders? (Or if this is the first time the governing body has met to
discuss the issue: who are we consulting and how?)
The DfE website
also carries a great deal of information and supporting documents which will be
of help to the governing body - DfE
Question 4: Who should the governing body
Answer: The Act includes a requirement
that governing bodies must consult before they convert to academy status and
that the consultation must be about whether the school should convert. The Act does not specify who the governing
body should consult, merely stating that it should be ‘such persons as they
think appropriate’. In addition, the Act
requires governing bodies to consult their foundation body (if they have one
and to consult staff about their conditions of employment.
The NGA is of the
view that consultation should take place at an early stage of the process
before governing bodies have applied for academy status, and that no governing
body should submit an application to the DfE unless and until they have
consulted their key stakeholders (parents,
pupils, staff, local authorities, or other local schools). Conversion to academy status is a significant
step; it means moving accountability away from the local authority to the
Secretary of State and potentially fundamentally changing the structure of the
governing body. A decision on such a
step should not be done without considering the views of those likely to be
The NGA has
produced guidance on who and when to consult and this can be found at Annex A.
4a - Foundation Bodies and Trustees
If the school has a
foundation body (some foundation and voluntary schools), the governing body
must consult that body before it makes an application for Academy status. The governing body could still register an
interest, but it could not proceed to a formal application unless this
consultation has occurred. The consent
of the Trustees and the person or persons who appoint the foundation governors
is required before any application is made.
4b - Do we need to consult parents and
Answer: The Act requires governing bodies to consult
before they can sign the Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State. The latest version of the DfE guidance can be
viewed via the attached link - DfE
The NGA would
strongly recommend as good practice that the governing body carries out a
formal consultation process as it would need to do for any other change in a
school’s status. This is a fundamental
change in the designation of the school and will be difficult (if not
impossible) to reverse.
We suggest you
consult parents, students, staff and local partners. In order for the consultation to be
meaningful, full information on the implications would need to be
provided. Information could include:
- details of the proposed academy arrangements;
- details of the proposed governance arrangements including details
of the directors of the company which will enter into the Academy
arrangements and details of the composition of the governing body;
- any proposed changes in the arrangements for the curriculum, for
special educational needs, for pupil discipline, exclusion and for complaints, and
confirmation that there will be no change in the admissions arrangements;
- details of the additional money which would be available to the
school (either as capital or revenue funding) if it became an academy;
- details of any additional obligations which fall on the school if
it became an academy; and
- details of the support that is proposed to be given to other
schools and any other possible effect on other schools.
It is for the
school to decide how to carry out the consultation process, but the following
should be considered:
- Make sure information is readily available – if you have a website
post it there, if not make sure information is sent out to parents and
available to pick up at the school
- Hold meetings for parents/pupils and staff – to provide
information, but also to enable them to give their views and ask
questions. Make sure the answers to
those questions are published
- You may wish to consider issuing a consultation questionnaire
- You may wish to consider holding a ballot of parents to determine
whether to go ahead.
We also suggest
that the governing body should enable supporters and opponents of the proposal
to circulate relevant materials to other consultees.
An NGA guide to
consultation will be available on the NGA website shortly
4c - Do we need to consult staff?
Answer: The Act requires governing bodies to consult
‘such persons as they think appropriate’ before they sign the Funding Agreement
– the NGA believes that this should include the school staff (see Question 4b).
In addition, there is
a requirement to consult staff about the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection
of Employment) Regulations (TUPE). TUPE
says that all employees who could be affected by a change of employer have the
right to be informed in advance of what is happening. This includes both
employees working for the old employer and those working for the new employer.
The legal requirements on information and consultation are to be found in of
the TUPE Regulations 2006.
cover this requirement in its guidance which can be found via this link - DfE
Question 5 - Should we be discussing this
with the local authority?
Answer: You do not have to consult the local authority. However the NGA believes that the governing
body should invite views from the Local Authority (LA) and should in particular
seek information about the cost of services currently provided by the authority
which the school would have to meet as an academy.
In addition, at a
community or voluntary controlled school the LA is the employer of staff at the
school and as such will be responsible for conducting TUPE consultations (see
question 4c). However if the LA is slow
at undertaking the TUPE consultations, your solicitor can advise you how to
In community and
voluntary controlled schools the LA will be the owner of the land and in many
cases the transfer of the land will be one of the more time-consuming aspects
of the conversion process. It is
recommended that school start early discussions with their LA about the land
the school uses.
If the school’s
land is currently owned by the LA then on conversion it will be leased to the
Academy Trust on a long term lease (see question 12).
Question 6: Should we be discussing this
with other local schools?
Answer: The NGA believes that as a matter of good practice the governing body
should discuss its plans with local schools, particularly those it currently
works closely with, is a feeder school for, or receives pupils from.
schools seeking to convert to academy status will be required to set out in
their application what arrangements they have in place to support another
school. This will require consultation
and discussion. (See also Question 28)
Should we hold an additional governing body meeting?
Answer: There are a number of steps
that we think the governing body should go through.
interest does not commit the governing body to conversion, so the NGA does not
believe it is necessary to hold a special meeting to decide whether to register
an interest or not. However, since there
is no rush to take any action, the governing body may decide to look at the
issues in some detail, before even registering an interest. However the
advantage of registering an interest first is that the DfE will provide a named
contact to whom the governing body can direct its questions.
Whichever route the
governing body follows, the NGA believes it would be sensible to set up a small
working group to gather together the information that the governing body will
need to decide whether to apply for academy status, and to arrange consultation
with stakeholders. The members of the
working group should be determined at a meeting of the full governing body,
this does not need to be a special meeting and could be an item on the next scheduled
meeting. This working party should include the school business manager and the
The NGA would recommend that a special single
issue meeting of the governing body is held to discuss whether to apply for
academy status. This is a significant
step for the governing body and the NGA does not think that adding it to the
agenda of a scheduled meeting will provide sufficient time for the detailed
discussion needed. The discussion should
take into account the views of your stakeholders.
No application for
academy status can be made unless the governing body has taken a resolution to
do so. The minutes of the meeting at
which the resolution were taken are required by the DfE as evidence. (See Question 18 in relation to the
composition of the academy governing body)
We are a primary school; are there additional issues we should be
The principles are
the same. However there are the issues
of staff skills and capacity and the lack of cost-effectiveness, especially for
smaller primaries and those without a bursar or school business manager. You need to consider carefully whether you
have the ability to procure the services you will no longer receive from the
What additional responsibilities does the governing body of an academy
Answer: To some extent this will depend
on the type of school. Academy governing
bodies are the direct employer of staff, have direct health and safety
responsibilities, are the school’s admission authority and responsible for
ensuring the school undergoes an annual external financial audit. The governors of foundation and voluntary
aided schools already have the first three of these responsibilities, but they
would be new for governors of community and voluntary controlled schools and
the external audit would be new for all maintained schools.
become responsible for providing some services that would previously have been
provided by the local authority. The
school receives additional funding to cover the provision of these
services. It is for the school to decide
where to buy these services from.
services that the school will become responsible for may include: SEN support
services for non-statemented pupils, behaviour support services, school meals
and milk and the assessment of free school meals eligibility, kitchen
maintenance and repair, museum and library services, licences and
subscriptions, central staff costs (e.g. maternity cover, trade union cover, long
term sickness), cost of terminating employment, school improvement services,
education welfare services, pupil support (e.g. clothing grants), music
services, visual and performing arts services, outdoor education services,
monitoring of national curriculum assessments).
What new freedoms does being an academy bring?
Answer: The DfE academies website sets
out the main freedoms as follows:
control over the budget
are free to spend their budget as they see fit.
This means that all elements of the Academy’s funding can be pooled and
apportioned where the Academy deems it will be most effective.
from local authority control
NGA members welcome the support and advice they receive from their local
authorities, and although we have come across some instances of heavy-handed
approaches by local authorities, schools already have considerable
to set your own pay and conditions for staff
School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document does provide a clear framework for
governing bodies to work to and the NGA is concerned about the wisdom of opting
out of the document. We understand many
converter Academies have adopted the STPCD. However even if a school does not
adopt the STPCD on conversion, the terms and conditions of existing staff will
be protected under the TUPE Regulations (see Question 4c).
from following the National Curriculum
Government has already announced plans to review the National Curriculum (DfE
Curriculum Announcement) for all schools and reduce the levels of
prescription in it. Indeed some
headteachers have said that they are able to innovate within the existing
National Curriculum. The governing body
will, therefore, need to take into account proposed changes in the curriculum
for maintained schools and decide whether what the school wants to achieve can
be done without changing status.
to change the lengths of terms and school days.
already have the power to change the length of the school day, providing they
follow the appropriate Regulations. Some
schools (specifically foundation and voluntary aided schools) have the ability
to change the school term. The NGA
supports the idea of a standard school year and if there is a free for all on
term dates it will make it even harder than at present for parents with children
in different schools.
The DfE is building
up a number of case studies on its website to demonstrate how schools which
have already converted are making best use of their new status - DfE
Converter Academy Case Studies.
The NGA would like
to hear from any member schools who have converted about how they have used the
freedoms that Academy status has given them.
What are the financial implications of converting to academy status?
Answer: Academies are funded directly
by Central Government rather than through the local authority. This will be
calculated and paid by the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA). The main element of funding is known as the
General Annual Grant. It should also be
noted that academies are funded on the basis of academic years rather than
The Government has
stated that becoming an academy will not provide more money for a
school: the school will receive the equivalent per-pupil amount that the local
authority would have spent. It appears
from information provided by early converters that the amount of money received
for central services previously provided by the LA (this is known as LACSEG -
see below for definition) is providing significantly more funds than schools
are having to pay out.
The school will
receive the following funds:
Annual Grant (GAG) This is made up of:
amount equivalent to the school's current budget share known as its delegated
budget share. This will be the same as the school's current budget share
received from the local authority. It is adjusted to take account of the
reduced business rates an academy will pay (as result of its charitable status)
and for insurance which is paid separately
authority central spend equivalent grant (LACSEG): This is the additional money
to cover those central services that the local authority no longer provides. It is calculated using a formula based on an
academy's pupil numbers and the amount that the relevant local authority spends
on the services and costs.
Grant – to take account of the fact that academies are not VAT exempt.
– paid at the actual cost of insurance for the school.
It is the LACSEG,
the central services grant, which has occasioned most speculation about how
much ‘more’ money a school would receive as an academy. The amount will be
different for every single school as it is calculated using each school’s pupil
numbers and will depend how much money your local authority holds back for
these services. Schools will be free to
decide where to purchase these services from, including buying them in from the
local authority. It is this element of funding which some schools have found
gives them much greater flexibility.
This is because the school is now free to determine how to spend this
funding whereas previously this money was held back and spent by the LA. In
addition, as the schools which have converted so far have been outstanding
schools in many cases they have not needed high levels of intervention from the
local authority, consequently they probably receive more funding through LACSEG
for support services than they were receiving in kind.
The DfE has posted
a ready reckoner on its website to provide schools with an indicative funding
figure. The ready reckoner can be found
at the top right-hand side of the DfE’s page on academy funding via the
attached link - DfE
The school will
need to input some basic financial information – which your bursar/business
manager should easily be able to provide (pupils numbers, funding for pupils
with SEN, budget share etc) and the ready reckoner will then provide a budget
There has been
speculation, particularly amongst local authorities as to whether the ready
reckoner correctly calculates the LACSEG.
This is because when they have run all their schools through the ready
reckoner, it gives schools in total more than the local authority currently
receives. However individual schools
converting report the ready reckoner to be very close to what they end up
receiving this year. However the ready
reckoner provides a calculation of what the school can expect to receive in its
first year of funding. Just as with
maintained schools budgets can go up and down in subsequent years. Schools also need to be aware that the LACSEG
can and will change year on year (upwards or downwards) as it is based on local
authority expenditure which does not remain the same from one year to another -
schools do need to take this into account when making decision. In addition there are very likely to be
changes in how school funding is allocated from 2012/13.
The DfE have said
that there will be a separate ready reckoner for special schools, but this is
not available yet.
Will there be any help with the cost of academy conversion?
Answer: Yes. If you decide to apply for academy status,
you will require legal advice in relation to setting up the Trust Body,
negotiating the Funding Agreement (although there is a standard template
available, along with model Articles of Association and Memorandum of
Understanding) and transferring land. The
model documents can be found on the DfE’s website via the attached link - DfE
Model Documents Governing bodies
will not necessarily need legal advice to decide whether or not to apply, but
should ensure that they have considered the full implications of the change in
The DfE is
providing a grant of £25,000 to support the costs of conversion to academy
status. This grant does not become
available until the Secretary of State has signed an Academy Order. This only happens after the school has
formally applied for Academy status (i.e. after the governing body has taken a
resolution to do so). If you do not
spend the full £25k on legal costs, you care entitled to keep the remainder of
the grant. We understand that the legal
costs of converter schools tend to be between £10-15k, although in some cases the
cost could be higher. We have heard of
one school spending over £50k. As with any large item of expenditure you
should ‘shop around’ and get quotes from a number of firms to ensure you get
the best deal.
It is not clear
whether the school would be required to pay back the legal grant if it
ultimately chose not to sign the Funding Agreement. The NGA recommends that schools do not apply
for Academy status until they have assessed all the available information and
made a considered decision.
What happens if the school is carrying a surplus?
Answer: The school will be able to carry
its surplus forward to its new status.
We have a deficit, can we still become an Academy?
Answer: Schools with deficits will be able to apply to
convert to academy status; although if the school has a significant deficit, approval
may be postponed until the school has reduced the deficit. If the school is allowed to convert with a
deficit then it will need to agree a repayment plan with the YPLA.
Question 15: Our local authority is currently one of the
worst funded local authorities? Will the
school be better off if it adopts Academy status?
Answer: Funding for individual academies is based on
the level of funding provided by their current local authority. Academies receive additional funding to take
account of the central services previously provided by the LA, but which as an academy
they would be responsible for and also take account of the fact that academies
have to pay VAT. (See also Question
Following a consultation, the DfE has announced that the
existing system for distributing the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), which is
the grant that local authorities receive to fund schools, will be retained for
2011-12 . The DfE has also announced the
introduction of a Pupil Premium for 2011 but the precise details of how this
will be distributed have not yet been announced.
Question 16: How will the school’s governance change?
Answer: The principles of governance are the same at
an academy as at a maintained school. However
the difference is that all academies are charitable companies and as such have
a trust body. The trust body is the
over-arching accountable body and may have the ability to appoint the majority
of the governing body. The respective
responsibilities of the trust body and the governing body will be set out in
the Articles of Association. In the
majority of academies the governors are also trustees and directors of the
company, but the NGA has come across an ‘old’ academy where there the Trustees
are separate to the governing body and retain the power to approve the budget
and appoint the headteacher/principal.
There are significant differences between the governance in the ‘old’
academies which have sponsors, while outstanding converter academies do not.
The DfE has published model Articles of Association and
these envisage that the governors will also be the directors of the
company. The model articles can be found
on the DfE’s page containing supporting documents via the attached link – DfE
Supporting Documents The model Articles set out the minimum
requirements for the governing body, but there is flexibility in terms of
maximum size (see question 18).
Where existing schools are converting to become academies,
it will be possible for the existing governing body to become members of the
trust body and indeed to also be members of the new academy governing body. Indeed this appears to be the most common route
converter academies are taking.
It is the newly created academy trust body that will sign
the formal funding agreement with the Secretary of State.
Question 17: How will the Trust Body be made up?
Answer: The NGA welcomes the fact that existing
schools can now convert to academy status without the need for a sponsor. The
Trust Body could be made up of some or all of the members of the existing
governing body. It is up to the
governing body of the predecessor school to determine what the membership of
the Academy Trust will look like. The
NGA believes it is extremely important for the existing governing body to
ensure that key stakeholders are represented on the Academy Trust Body. If the
governing body wishes it will be possible to set up a Trust Body in partnership
with another body. (See Question 16 above).
Question 18: Will the make-up of our governing body have
to be different if we convert to academy status?
Answer: It does not have to be. DfE officials have said that there is
considerable flexibility in the Academy model and that early converters have
been able to keep their existing governing body if that is what they wanted. On
the other hand the guidance on the DfE website states that “There will be only
limited circumstances in which amendments to the model documents are possible
and any discussions relating to amendments are likely to delay the conversion
process”. But converting schools have
reported that if you are persistent in your requests, they will be
granted. For example, the model Articles
do not refer to community governors, but these can be included in an Academy
The DfE’s model Articles of Association set a minimum number
of governors (3) but not a maximum. The basic governance model as envisioned in
the model articles is:
- ‘x’ governors appointed by
the Academy Trust,
- 1 LA governor (optional),
- a minimum of 2 elected
- optional staff governors
(appointed by the Trust – staff governors may not comprise more than one
third of the total governing body),
- Headteachers (or
Principals as they are generally known in academies), will be ex-officio
- up to three co-opted
governors (appointed by the governing body).
There is also provision for the Secretary of State to
appoint additional governors in certain circumstances.
The NGA would recommend that schools choosing to convert to
academy status should take the opportunity to review the make-up of its
governing body, but ensure that there is proper representation for all current
stakeholders on the academy trust. The
NGA recommends that if the governing body decides to apply for academy status
(see Question 7) it should record in its minutes what the make-up of the
academy governing body should look like. This could in effect be included as a
proviso to the application. The Secretary of State has said that although it is
the new Academy Trust which signs the funding agreement, he will accept that
the original governing body can withdraw from the process, if they are not
happy with the results of the negotiation.
Once the new Academy governing body is in place, it is subject
to the trust body which will have the power to seek amendments to the composition
of the governing body by seeking amendments to the Articles of Association.
Question 19: I’ve heard that as a governor of an academy I
could be held personally liable if things go wrong, is this true?
Answer: Academies are charitable companies limited by
guarantee. This means that if the
academy were to go bankrupt (an admittedly unlikely event) the members of the
Trust Body could be held liable to the amount set out in the Articles of Association. The most common level of liability is set out
as £10 per trustee.
However, anyone acting as a director of the company (in most
cases the governors will be both trustees and directors) have unlimited
liability for their own defaults. For
example, if a director breaches fiduciary duties her/his liability to the
company is for the entire loss caused. A
director is also, in some instances largely related to health and safety and
personally liable for fines imposed for breaches of regulations.
A director is not liable for any debts or liabilities
providing s/he acts properly and within the powers and authority conferred on
her/him. If s/he acts outside those
parameters then a director can be made liable, without limit, for loss caused
to the company and potentially to third parties.
The Academies Financial Handbook requires that Academies
have adequate insurance to support its activities and meet statutory
requirements. The DfE recommended minimum
employer’s and public liability cover against the governors’ responsibility for
injury or illness of staff of third parties, or damage to third party property is
Question 20: Who holds the assets of the
The Academy Trust holds the assets of the
Academy. When a school converts to an
Academy the DfE request that the LA and the Academy Trust sign a Commercial
Transfer Agreement (CTA) which sets out how the predecessor school’s assets and
liabilities should be disposed.
If after the governing body submits an application and it changes its
mind, can it withdraw?
Answer: The governing body can withdraw
from the process up until the point that the Funding Agreement is signed.
If the school converts to academy status and then changes its mind can
it convert back again?
Answer: No, the Act stipulates that you
sign an agreement for seven years.
Although there are mechanisms to allow for early termination of the
Funding Agreement this would not result in the school reverting to its original
If we become an academy can we change our admissions arrangements?
Answer: Academies become their own
admissions authority. Once converted as
the admission authority, the governing body would be able to consult about
changes to its admission arrangements.
The DfE’s guidance makes clear that academy admission arrangements must
comply with the Admissions Code. The Admissions Code sets out the timetable and
consultations procedure Admission Authorities must go through if they wish to
change their admission procedures.
The Academies Act
specifically states that with the exception of schools which were selective
before they converted to academy status, academies must provide ‘education for
pupils of different abilities’. It will
not, therefore, be possible for an existing non-selective school to become
selective after converting to academy status.
As a selective grammar school, under Academy status will we be able to
change either the selection criteria currently laid down by our Local Authority
or the catchment areas also laid down by the LA?
Answer: Outstanding grammar schools can
apply for Academy status in the same way as any other school and retain their
selection arrangements. Academies
become their own admission authority which in effect means that the governing
body set the admission criteria for the school.
Specific provisions will be included in the Funding Agreement of grammar
schools to ensure that the same provisions relating to parental ballots or
governing body decisions to propose removal of selection apply to Academies as
to maintained schools.
Can we change our status in other ways? – for example we would like to
change from 11-16 to 11-19.
Answer: No – the Academy must be the
same as the pre-converter school. Once
converted, Academies would need the approval of the Secretary of State to make
any change to its age range. Schools
seeking to make such changes will need to make a business case to the Young
People’s Learning Agency (YPLA) in the first instance.
What is going to be the effect on other local authority
responsibilities, such as SEN?
Answer: The Act does not change local authorities' statutory responsibilities for
children with statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN). There is concern that with all Academies
receiving a share of local authorities’ non-statemented SEN funding, local
authorities will not have sufficient funding to meet the SEN needs of the
remaining maintained schools.
Question 27: What responsibilities do Academies have for
pupils with SEN?
have the same responsibilities as maintained schools for pupils with SEN. They
are required to inform parents if their child has SEN and what provision is
being made for the child, they are required to accept children where the
Academy is named on the child’s statement and they must appoint a Special
Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in accordance with the Regulations which
govern maintained schools.
We are in a federation in which only one of the schools is currently
outstanding – can the whole federation apply via the fastrack route?
Federations will be
accepted on the fast-track route even if only one of the schools is rated as
outstanding by Ofsted.
Who will measure the performance of academies and by what mechanism?
Academies are subject
to inspection by Ofsted in the same way that maintained schools are inspected. The
presumption is that outstanding schools are only subject to inspection if data
suggests that their performance has deteriorated. The Government has also announced a review of
the Ofsted inspection framework with a view to a new framework being in place
in time for the 2011-12 Academic Year.
Question 30: Who is responsible for supporting and
ensuring school improvement in Academies?
‘Old’ Academies did have School Improvement Partners (SIPs),
but the Government is reviewing the whole process of school improvement, so it
is not clear whether any outstanding schools will continue to have SIPs. Academies
are still subject to inspection by Ofsted in the same way as maintained
Question 31: Who decides which other school we support to
Answer: The application process requires
that converting schools commit to supporting another school. It is for individual schools to decide how to
What rules apply to Academies and excluded pupils?
Agreements require them to follow the law on exclusions as though they were a
maintained school. Academies are
responsible for setting up their own independent exclusions panels in
accordance with any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. The Academy must inform the local authority
of all permanent exclusions.
If you are not a member of NGA, we hope you will consider joining us; our
ability to issue independent guidance for governors is paid for by our
members. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,uk for more information.
- This document sets out the
NGA’s views on what good practice in relation to non-compulsory
consultation on the decision to convert to Academy status. We have put
together this document as a result of number of queries received by
members about how best to undertake the consultation.
- The statutory requirements
are laid down in Regulation 5 of the Academies Act 2010, this states:
“5 Consultation on
a maintained school in England is converted into an Academy, the school's
governing body must consult such persons as they think appropriate.
consultation must be on the question of whether the school should be converted
into an Academy.
consultation may take place before or after an Academy order, or an application
for an Academy order, has been made in respect of the school.”
effect this means that is entirely a matter for the governing body who it
consults and how. The NGA firmly
believes that governing bodies should keep all those involved with the school
(parents, pupils, staff, local authority, local community, neighbouring &
feeder schools and diocese (if appropriate)) informed of their plans throughout
the process and that consultation should take place before the governing body
take formal resolution to apply for Academy status. This is a key Government policy and the
option to apply for Academy status is not going to be withdrawn, schools can
take their time and ensure that they have carried out the process thoroughly
and with due diligence.
has been at least one reported case of a school temporarily withdrawing its
application for Academy status following a solicitor’s letter which, amongst
other things, challenged the way in which the school had sought parental views.
is worth at this point considering the judgement in R v Northumberland County
Council, Ex Parte Parents for Legal Action Ltd – 18 May 2006 – which revolved
about what constituted proper consultation. The Judge commented that:
“The whole purpose of consultation is to
inform the process before the public
body formulates and publishes its final processes.”
Although this judgement refers to statutory
proposals in relation to a maintained school, as opposed to an application to
convert to Academy status, it is the NGA’s view that governing bodies will not
go too far wrong if they bear it in mind
when considering Academy status.
first stage may well be for the governing body to have an item on the Agenda
for a full governing body meeting – whether to consider Academy status. If the answer to this question is, yes, we
would like to consider it but need further information, then the NGA recommends
that the governing body sets up a working group to gather relevant information
(for further information on this see the NGA’s Q&A on Academies).
this stage it is worth alerting key stakeholders (see paragraph 3 for a list) to
the fact that the governing body is discussing the issue. Many schools have regular newsletters and
indeed website. The NGA recommends the
“At its meeting on xx the governing body
discussed the issue of Academy status.
The governing body has made no firm decision as to whether to apply for
Academy status as it does not feel it has sufficient information to make an
informed decision. The governing body
has, therefore, set up a working party to gather all the relevant
information. Once that information is
collected the governing body will hold a separate meeting to decide whether we
think that Academy status is in the best interests of the school. At that point we will carry out a full and
open consultation and make available all the relevant information.
In the meantime any parents/pupils/members
of staff or the local community who would like to comment on the idea should
please write to xx at the school or send an email to. If there are any particular questions you
would like the Working Party to find the answer to, please also use these
gathered the relevant information the governing body should convene a single issue
governing body meeting. The sole item on
the Agenda will be whether the governing body thinks the school should convert
to Academy Status.
the governing body decides not to convert then in the interests of transparency
it should inform stakeholders of the reason(s) why.
on the other hand the governing body decides that it does wish to convert then
it should undertake a formal consultation with key stakeholders – to obtain
their views on whether it should convert.
If the governing body is convinced this is the right move and has the
evidence to back that decision up then it should be able to put together a
strong case to stakeholders.
consultation should include details of: finance, staffing, services and
governance. As the governing body has
not yet applied for Academy status, it will not have formally established an
Academy Trust, but this does not prevent the governing body from putting
forward a model for stakeholders to consider and comment on.
should be given sufficient time to respond to a consultation (at least 4 weeks,
not including school holidays). The NGA
would recommend a variety of methods for consultation:
A letter to parents setting out the proposal –
Website - if the school has a website then the
detailed background papers could be placed on this.
Public meetings – where interested parties can
raise question and make comments – these should be properly minuted.
Governing bodies should allow a variety of means
for response – email, written, face to face.
the consultation period has ended and the responses collated, then the
governing body should consider all the evidence and take the final decision
about whether to apply to convert.