We have a long history in providing services to education bodies and we are committed to deliver a valuable service to this sector. Our aim is to work in partnership with you to assist you in achieving your goals. Whether your goal is converting your school to an academy, raising finance for a new build or arranging training for governors and trustees, our partner-managed approach will fulfil your requirements.
We advise many schools, colleges and education charities and appreciate their unique legal requirements. We understand that it is important for your organisation to provide reasoning for your decision making and we will therefore provide you with a clear breakdown of our services for your specific needs from the outset.
We adopt a no-nonsense approach to service delivery and our advice will always be clear, concise, and delivered in a timely and personal manner.
You will receive advice from our most experienced solicitors who have a well earned reputation for being approachable, available and dedicated to support your needs. Our solicitors are specialists in their chosen sectors and this emphasis on expertise has enabled us to develop and maintain an outstanding reputation with our current clients in the education sector.
We also appreciate that you have a day job which doesn’t ordinarily involve legal work and we therefore aim to take a pragmatic and pro-active role to ensure that we only ask you to provide information and look at legal documents when absolutely necessary.
A helping hand to form your future academy
Although it is currently the Secretary of State’s policy to prioritise schools rated Ofsted ‘outstanding’ or ‘good with outstanding features’, the Academies Act 2010 is sufficiently wide enough to allow all maintained schools to become an academy. It is also possible for schools in federation to convert to a federated academy structure providing one of the school’s in the federation is classed as Ofsted ‘outstanding’. The department for education (DfE) has published a significant amount of information on its website regarding converting to an academy and schools are encouraged to register their interest in becoming an academy.
The conversion process to an academy is expected to take three to four months and we have provided for you below a brief overview of the conversion process and the specific areas in which Tollers can help you to achieve your goal:
The Conversion Process
- Registration to note your interest
- Submit application to convert
- Academy order made by the Secretary of State
- Finalise governing documents
- Set up Academy Trust (company limited by guarantee)
- Enter into Funding Agreement
- Enter into Commercial Transfer Agreement
- Undertake pre-opening procedures and registrations
The Academy Trust will be a company limited by guarantee incorporated with Companies House. It will be responsible for the running of the academy and will have control over the land and other assets. The Academy Trust will operate as a charitable company, however, it will be considered as an ‘exempt’ charity and therefore it will not have to follow the registration process of becoming a charity. Most likely the existing governors will be appointed as governors of the Academy Trust and they will need to comply with obligations under charity and company law.
Transfer of Staff
The Academy Trust will employ the staff of the academy. The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) will apply to the transfer of the staff and the terms and conditions of the staff’s employment will transfer from the school’s governing body or from the local authority to the Academy Trust without any alteration. The academy will have the freedom to set their own terms and conditions for staff, however, if any amendments to the staff’s term and conditions are proposed a full consultation process will need to be undertaken.
Our employment law team have extensive knowledge of TUPE and the compliance with these regulations will be a key part of the process and we will give you a clear step by step guide as to what notification and consultation process must be followed with staff.
The transfer of school land from the existing owner (whether that is the governing body, local authority (LA), the foundation or trustees of the school) to the Academy Trust will be dependant on the ownership history of the school land and the category of school.
The following will usually apply:
- If the governing body/LA holds the freehold interest in the land then this interest can be transferred to the Academy Trust before the conversion date providing that a direction for the transfer has been received from the Secretary of State.
- If the governing body/LA holds the leasehold interest in the land, either the governing body surrenders the leasehold interest to the LA and LA grants a new lease of the land to Academy Trust under 125 year lease for peppercorn rent or the LA if they have the leasehold interest will grant a new lease to the Academy Trust.
Our property solicitors deal daily with transfers of title of both freehold and leasehold premises. They currently work closely with a number of local and national education providers and therefore they can efficiently deal with the transfer of the school property to the Academy. It is usual that the property transfer usually presents the most obstacles and we will identify these early to prevent any delays.
The Commercial Contracts
The articles of association and the funding agreement govern the academy regulation. Whilst the commercial transfer agreement documents the transfer of the assets from the existing school and the benefit of any contracts required after the conversion to the Academy Trust. Our commercial team have a wealth of experience in the education sector and they are able to give clear and accurate advice and will deal efficiently with the negotiation of these documents to protect the interests of the Academy Trust.
The school will receive funding based on the level of local authority funding already calculated for the school, and in addition they will receive a sum of money amounting to what is usually retained by the local authority to fund central services that the local authority will no longer provide. The academy will receive grant funding to meet the additional VAT that they incur and to meet their insurance costs. A grant of up to £25,000 is also available to assist with the cost of conversion.
Pre-Opening and Registrations
On or before the conversion date the governing body is required to register with a number of organisations including the Information Commissioner’s Office for data protection registration, with exam boards and the Teachers’ Pensions, the regulatory body of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. The Academy Trust is also under a duty to ensure that all of its governors and members have received an enhanced CRB check.
Ongoing support for your Academy
We offer a fixed fee plus VAT and any disbursements incurred. The fixed fee we provide is based upon the information given to us by you after an initial meeting to ascertain all the preliminary information. We will then provide you with a detailed step plan for the project.
We will discuss with you which steps of the conversion process you wish to take and which steps you wish for Tollers to undertake. This will enable us to tailor the step plan and fee quote specifically to your requirements and will give you clarity from the outset on our fees.
If you would like any further information please contact Yagnesh Shah on 01908 306959 or email email@example.com
- Direct Debit
published in MK Citizen on 13 July 2011, article can be found attached and also on our website: