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Academy conversions

Academisation has been successive governments’ flagship education policy, with the Academies Act 2010 providing the framework for thousands of schools to adopt academy status. Academy conversions continue to occupy centre stage in education policy, whether it’s a voluntary decision taken by the governing body of a school or following intervention by the local authority or the Department for Education (DfE).

Schools converting to academies

The decision to convert and either establish or join a multi academy trust will be one of the biggest decisions a governing body can make, and it is crucial to secure clear legal advice from a recognised law firm with expert sector knowledge who can work in partnership with you throughout the process.

So far, in excess of 10,000 schools have converted to academies, and we’ve been instructed on one in five - over 2,000 - of those conversions. Our dedicated team of education lawyers have extensive experience supporting schools on their conversion to academy status and we now offer a fixed fee package that will deliver your conversion whilst providing comprehensive support throughout the process.

Find out more about converting to academy status

Do schools have to convert to an academy or join a trust?

Our mission has always been to serve our education clients by supporting them to take the approaches that they themselves determine to be right for their children, staff and communities, whether that be to embrace or resist academisation. As such, we are just as proud of the important role that we've played on challenging forced academisation decisions.

Find out more about forced academisation

How we help:

  • Strategic support and project planning
  • Governance and commercial support
  • School land, estate and buildings
  • TUPE/employee transfer support
Stuart Ayres CEO, Future Generation Trust
Browne Jacobson offers our trustees great reassurance. Their considerable experience and expertise ensure that the conversion process is completed professionally, diligently and within the agreed time frame. The team they assemble are skillfully led and extremely meticulous in their approach.

Frequently asked questions

If you’re considering converting to academy status, there’s many things to think about. By applying to convert, you’ll turn your school into an independently managed, publicly funded academy. This could give you better control over your admissions process, budgets and staffing, as well as more freedom to innovate and more tools to create a nurturing environment for pupils.

As with any legal changeover, there are complexities that could arise. Careful planning is required for every step of the process, and this is where we come in. From establishing a timeline to support your planning, to dealing with the transfer of land and school buildings, TUPE and commercial arrangements, we can provide advice and practical support every step of the way.

With our extensive experience in academy conversions and compliance, we can arm you with everything you need to know and guide you through each stage.

Find out more

Our mission has always been to serve our education clients by supporting them to take the approaches that they themselves determine to be right for their children, staff and communities, whether that be to embrace or resist academisation. As such, we are just as proud of the important role that we've played on challenging forced academisation decisions.

How we help:

  • Strategic support and project planning
  • Governance and commercial support
  • School land, estate and buildings
  • TUPE/employee transfer support

Find out more

Expertise

Testimonials

Key stats

Featured experience

Over 2,000 academy conversions

We've now supported over 2,000 academy conversions - that's around one in five nationwide since the Academies Act 2010. Our team has the experience, expertise and understanding to provide schools with the support they need for a smooth transition into an academy trust. 

Trusted legal advisors to Large MATs

We provide a breadth of legal advice for our clients, e.g. Advising a large multi-academy trust on over 20 of its academy projects, including fast-track and fully sponsored, PFI conversions, a special free school, a mainstream free school and the establishment of a brand new academy led by a local authority.

Supporting trusts, academies and schools

We recently supported a multi-academy trust selected by the DfE to step in and support a number of failing academies. Our advice and support was required at short notice which often meant attending Board meetings to provide timely advice in order to effectively support the MAT to deliver the project in difficult circumstances and a tight time-frame.

Supporting to gain multi-academy trust status

We supported a secondary academy wanting to become an approved sponsor and adopt multi-academy status. Working with the academy we helped them to understand the DfE's requirements and to write a successful business case. We worked with the leadership team and governing body to design a suitable governance structure and set up a MAT to meet their future strategic vision.

Academy and free school projects

Acting on numerous academy and free school projects nationally. The team is experienced with all aspects of education law in relation to property transactions required in these projects, including leasehold and freehold transactions, shared use agreements (including leisure centres), Sure Start centres, nurseries, caretakers' tenancy agreements and substation and telecoms leases. They have dealt with a large number of BSF, PFI and PSPB projects, involving the various forms of development agreements.

MAT mergers and property

Acting for two multi-academy trusts we advised on the property aspects of a merger. This involved three development agreements relating to the construction of three new school sites to replace four old school sites. Each site involves numerous shared use arrangements relating to sports facilities, libraries and NHS health facilities, requiring leasebacks, licences and community use agreements. 

Supporting resources

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