A question we often get asked by schools is “can I be forced to become an academy?” The answer to that question to date has centred around whether a school is eligible for intervention and, primarily, its Ofsted’s grade.
A question we often get asked by schools is “can I be forced to become an academy?”
The answer to that question to date has centred around whether a school is eligible for intervention and, primarily, its Ofsted’s grade. However, under provisions within Part 1 of the Schools Bill, it could be the local authority that pushes academy status onto a maintained school.
The proposed new legislation states that a local authority can make an application to the Secretary of State for any of its schools to become an academy. Before doing so, it is required to consult with the governing body of the school before making that application, as well as securing the consent of relevant trustees in respect of foundation and voluntary schools.
If the Secretary of State approves the application and decides to issue the Academy Order, the school’s governing body will have a statutory duty to take reasonable steps to facilitate the conversion process.
The Government is keen to allow local authorities to shed schools where they need the extra capacity, or where they are maintaining an unviable number. It envisages conversations and engagement at local level to ensure that conversion works for everyone. However, if the school was truly on board with the process, in most cases, it could just make the application itself, so it is difficult to deny that the legislation is intended to compel. Of course, the issue of conversion itself is one thing, but there is also the matter of which multi-academy trust such schools would join. Whilst local authorities will be expected to take account of a school’s preferred trust, where that choice does not align with the local authority’s plans or the Regional Director’s wishes, technically the school could be forced to join a different trust.
The exercise of these powers is presumably intended as a last resort but it will be interesting to see how frequently local authorities actually rely on the new application route from September 2023 (when it is due to take effect). It is likely that there will be contrasting approaches across the country. Clearly, it will be more important than ever for schools to understand their local climate and options.
Regardless of the outcome of ballots on industrial action, unless there is drastic change to funding for schools in relation to pay increases, it will be unusual to find any organisational budget that is not impacted by the current economic situation.
There’s been little evidence of interventions or financial management reviews this year and it appears the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has re-focussed on financial delivery. It’s also telling that there were no discernible changes to the reporting of financial irregularities in the Academies Trust Handbook 2022.
The Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, has recently published a report “Beyond the labels: a SEND system which works for every child, every time”, which she intends to sit alongside the DfE’s SEND Review (2019) and SEND Green Paper (2022) and which she hopes will put children’s voices at the heart of the government’s review of SEND system.
As well as providing day-to-day support to help you focus on managing your settings, we also provide training and professional development on a range of topics to keep you and your staff up-to-date.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) recently issued new, non-statutory guidance regarding the wearing of natural or protective hairstyles, specifically in reference to their representation in uniform, behaviour or standalone appearance policies.
Emma Hughes, head of HR services at Browne Jacobson, explains how CST’s updated executive pay report and the linked benchmarking service from XpertHR can help trust boards make robust decisions on pay.
There’s greater opportunity than ever for parents, carers and guardians to voice any concerns they have relating to their child’s education and for their concerns to be heard and to be taken seriously. While most staff in schools and academies are conscious of their legal duties relating to complaints management, many are struggling to cope with such a significant increase in the volume of complaints they must manage.
Law firm Browne Jacobson has collaborated with Wiltshire Council and Christ Church Business School on the launch event of The Council Company Best Practice and Innovation Network, a platform which brings together academic experts and senior local authority leaders, allowing them to share best practice in relation to council companies.