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Academies consultation concerns

17 July 2013

At a school in Surrey, parents are being asked to choose uniforms for the new academy before a decision to convert to academy status has been taken. This has left stakeholders questioning whether the 'decision' is actually already a 'done deal'.

The Academies Act 2010 is rather deficient in terms of guidance on consultation for schools considering conversion. The Government has made it clear that they expect consultation to take place and that all consultation should be full and meaningful. Schools should follow general public law principles on consultation when considering academy status.

One of these principles is that the outcome of consultation should not be pre-determined. It is acceptable for schools to set out the preference of a governing body or sponsor, but this type of information must be balanced and clearly labelled as opinion. Yet particularly in the sponsored academy context where the sponsor is carrying out the consultation there can be a tension in the process between genuine consultation and the requirements for that school to become an academy.

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