Academies Bill

What are the legal implications of setting up an Academy?

One of the new Government’s flagship education policies is to give all maintained schools the opportunity to become Academies.

The Academies Bill, currently before Parliament, is expected to become law later this month. Academies are to be funded and maintained directly by the Department for Education at a level comparable to maintained schools and will retain the share of central funding currently retained by the local authority to spend on its behalf. Any financial surplus held at the date of conversion would also be kept by the new academy.

The various legal issues to consider when applying to become an Academy include:

• the school’s governing body must apply to the Department for Education for an Academy Order and negotiate a funding agreement;

• it will be necessary to set up a company limited by guarantee. The company will have charitable status but will not need to register with the Charity Commission;

• school staff would transfer on their current terms and conditions. This would amount to a transfer under TUPE legislation;

• ownership of the school land will need transferring, together with the school’s other assets;

• all existing contractual arrangements will need reviewing to reflect the new ownership arrangements.

The Government has confirmed that a £25,000 grant will be payable to all schools who are approved for conversion, to cover legal and other costs.

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