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P3 P4 P5 P6 P7 P8-9 P12 P13 P14 P15 P16 Explaining academies: status update for schools Key considerations Process Federations Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School Federation Help is at hand Independence day ??“ what is the legal process Academy conversion ??“ managing the process Case study ??“ Town End and Bexhill Schools, Sunderland Useful resources About us
Explaining academies: status update for schools
There are over 24,000 schools in England. Over 600 now have academy status, which is around 16 per cent of secondary schools ??“ and that looks set to accelerate. The original academy system was set up in 2000 and focused on poorly performing schools. With the change in Government in 2010, the criteria changed to invite schools that received an ???outstanding??™ Ofsted rating. This greatly increased applications and conversions, with many schools quickly expressing an interest. Further changes since have allowed more schools to apply for academy status. All academies will remain publicly funded but independently run, free from local authority control. The initiative is not without its critics, who believe that extending the opportunity ??“ and asking the best performing schools to mentor underperforming schools ??“ will fragment the education system. Whatever your views on how successful academies will be, assessing the process will be high on the agenda for many schools. We are also seeing schools partner as federations: pooling and maximising resources, assets and skills without academy status. Arguably the most significant change to the education system in recent years, few schools are going to ignore the option, seeking legal and financial guidance on how academy status could affect them before consulting staff, parents and pupils.
P10-11 All accounted for ??“ academies and finance
For those that do choose the academy route, the timescale for swapping local authority control for state-funded independence is not as onerous as it might seem. Legal expert Martha Burnige from Veale Wasbrough Vizards ??“ who contributes to this guide ??“ knows of schools that have converted within three months. It is this kind of expertise that we aim to bring to you with this Lloyds TSB Commercial guide. As well as a balanced view of the pros and cons, breakdown of the route to conversion and a look at cost planning, we have case studies of schools that have made the change and the views of experts and organisations such as the National Association of School Business Management (NASBM).
Ian Buss, Head of Education for Lloyds TSB Commercial, April 2011
When considering whether or not to convert into an academy, it is important to remember that there is no ???one size fits all??™ solution. There are many benefits and potential drawbacks to converting, and all need to be carefully reviewed before a final decision is made.
The aspects of school life affected by the change are wide reaching. One of the highest regarded benefits to converting ??“ the freedom from local authority control ??“ can also become one of the biggest burdens if not properly researched and managed. As an academy, you will have more control over a wider range of functions and so you should be asking some important questions. Will you make changes to the curriculum taught in the school, or the length of the school day Are you ready for the responsibility of owning and maintaining the school buildings and grounds Consideration will need to be given to staff pay and benefits offered by the academy. Will you look to improve employees??™ current terms and conditions It is important to remember that a share of any pension deficit will transfer over from the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) so you will need to be prepared to budget for this. Early negotiation with the local authority on this issue is essential. Legal frameworks will also need to be put in place, from forming an Academy Trust to finalising a Funding Agreement. Before taking the decision to convert, a consultation must be undertaken. You should consider consulting with staff, pupils
Step 1 ??“ Registration
??? All schools, including special schools from 2011, are able to apply ??? Schools are expected to mentor less high achieving schools. Schools can team up to form a federation ??? All schools have to register at www.education.gov.uk ??? After registering you will be contacted by your named representative at the DfE
and parents, and this could be completed using an online system. It is important to think about the effects that converting may have on all affected parties. The dynamics and culture of the school, as well as the curriculum and teaching hours, may change, and it is good practice to seek feedback on reactions to this before making a decision. Fortunately, there are a number of organisations that can provide help and advice at all stages of the conversion process. The Department for Education (DfE) will provide a named contact for you during the process; professional bodies such as NASBM organise events and forums for members; and an experienced legal firm and accountants are important for the right guidance at every stage. A banking partner with considerable experience in the education sector, such as Lloyds TSB Commercial, is also an invaluable resource and will provide further support and guidance on the process. Talking to these support networks will help you understand whether converting to an academy is right for your school. If it is, they can then help you to successfully negotiate the academy conversion process.
Step 2 ??“ Application and pre-approval checks
??? Your school??™s governing body needs to pass a resolution in favour of converting to an academy ??? Outline plans to the DfE for supporting or partnering with another school ??? Appoint a specialist law firm to advise on the legal aspects of your conversion ??? The Secretary of State will need to approve your proposal ??? The process of transferring staff (the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) or TUPE) will be started by the local authority/governing body that currently employs school staff ??? Activate the consultation process with interested parties
Step 3 ??“ Setting up an Academy Trust and Funding Agreement
??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? This is the stage at which all legal documents need to be agreed with the DfE The Academy Trust has to be registered with Companies House Transfer or leasing arrangements for school land needs to be finalised Completion of TUPE process Governors complete and close consultation process Funding Agreement signed by Academy Trust and Secretary of State Academy opening date set
Step 4 ??“ Pre-opening
??? ??? ??? ??? All CRB checks completed prior to transfer to academy status Financial systems and contracts with staff and suppliers confirmed Academy registrations with exam bodies confirmed Insurance put in place
The DfE states that this process can be completed in three months. Any complications over contracts, debts or land issues may prolong this.
An increasingly popular way for schools to collaborate is to form a federation.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of federation. A ???hard??™ federation is where a single, shared governing body runs more than one school. The schools operate within a single academy trust which reduces and simplifies some of the regulatory and compliance requirements. A ???soft??™ federation, or collaboration, is an informal partnership between schools. There is not always legal agreement in place, but schools work together in a variety of ways to share resources. In a hard federation, an executive head will normally provide strategic leadership for the group as a whole, and will be supported by the heads of each individual school. A school business manager may also operate across the federation. All member schools of a federation, whether hard or soft, can retain their separate identities and will have separate funding agreements. Schools in a federation are still inspected individually by Ofsted, although it may be that all schools in the federation are reviewed at a similar time, using the same team of inspectors, to ensure an accurate view of the group as a whole is given. Federating can particularly benefit smaller schools, or those in more rural communities, as it allows a sharing of facilities and management expertise. It also enables more buying power, as a federation may be able to achieve increased economies of scale over schools purchasing individually. Staff and learning resources can be shared among schools in a federation, such as Special Education Needs or Modern Foreign Language specialists, which schools individually may struggle to fund. A federation of a high school with its feeder schools, for example, can also help lessen the shock of transition for pupils from primary to secondary school. There are some financial implications that should also be considered. For example, transactions between schools in a soft federation may be subject to VAT which may diminish the cost effectiveness of the relationship. This does not normally apply in a hard federation. However, it is important to remember that although regulations allow different categories of schools to federate, care must be taken to ensure that relationships are not ???forced??™ and that all schools involved share the same vision and are fully engaged in the partnership.
Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School Federation
For Clarendon House Grammar School for Girls in Ramsgate, Kent, the prospect of converting to an academy was a straightforward one. Along with Chatham House Grammar School for Boys, the school had been part of the Federation of Ramsgate Grammar Schools since 2009. Rita Wilding, Finance and Premises Director, explains that this existing relationship meant it made sense to convert into an academy. ???As separate, single sex grammar schools within such close proximity, it seemed practical to put a relationship in place to share facilities and expertise. The result was the original federation we formed, which brought both schools under one executive head and enabled us to offer subjects in our sixth forms that would previously have been too uneconomical to run individually. ???Becoming an academy then seemed the natural progression for us, to give us extra freedom in terms of how we could procure services and control the allocation of resources as we see fit.??? The new academy became the Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School Federation in January 2011, with around 1,650 pupils and 200 employees across its two sites. The school used the help of an external agency to consult with pupils, parents and employees to understand their thoughts and feelings around the conversion. ???As two long-established, traditional schools, we were concerned that parents in particular
Above, left to right: Debra Canham (Bursar), Martin Tyler (Lloyds TSB Commercial) and Rita Wilding (Finance and Premises Director)
may have feared a loss of individuality. We ran consultations using both online and paper forms. We didn??™t actually receive that many responses back, which was reassuring as we took this silence of the majority as consent. ???When converting, my best piece of advice would be to find a ???buddy??™ academy, which has recently gone through the process or is converting at the same time. We found this extremely useful and it means you can share advice and experiences. ???The conversion process can be admin heavy, but with the right support, from organisations such as NASBM and Lloyds TSB Commercial, it can go very smoothly.??? To help you locate a school in your area that is converting to academy status, which could act as a ???buddy??™, please contact NASBM who will put you in touch with your local representative.
Help is at hand
William Simmonds is the Chief Executive at NASBM. The association supports the training, qualification and professional regulation of school business managers.
The decision to convert into an academy is not one to be taken lightly, and schools should ensure they perform a proper assessment and seek out the external advice available to make a fully informed choice.
One of the very first actions a school should take when thinking about converting is to weigh up the potential benefits and hurdles. Becoming an academy may be an attractive prospect due to the increased freedom to decide how teaching is delivered, and greater control over admissions and student numbers. An academy has the flexibility to structure its curriculum in the way its leaders think will best suit the needs of the pupils, but the subjects covered should still remain broad and balanced, including maths, English, science and ICT. Academies can specialise in one or two subjects like languages or music. They can also offer a range of qualifications, above and beyond those offered by local authority schools, including BTECs, diplomas and the International Baccalaureate. Changes to the curriculum and hours of teaching do not need to be approved by the local authority, which grants more freedom, but means care must be taken to ensure all amendments are in the best interests of pupils. When a school becomes an academy, it will be responsible for its own admission
arrangements and will need to manage the process itself. Just as with maintained schools, all academies are required to adopt clear and fair admission arrangements in accordance with the law on admissions and the School Admissions Code. Financially, an academy will also have the freedom to procure support services from providers offering the best value and service, and could apply for capital grants from central Government. Academy funding, from the General Annual Grant (GAG), is based on the level of local authority support calculated for the school. Grant payments to academies to replace services previously provided by the local authority depend on the level of central spend in the authority, and so can vary from area to area. The same level of funding per pupil will be given to academies as they would have received from the local authority as a maintained school, plus the additional money to cover the services that are no longer provided for them by the local authority. There are some potential pitfalls that will need careful consideration. An academy must be prepared to handle the pension deficit that is passed over from the LGPS, as well as the legal liabilities that come from taking over ownership of the school??™s buildings and land. It is possible that the academy??™s governing body will also need to be reviewed and new additions appointed. An academy must have
at least two parent governors, and academy staff must make up no more than a third of the governors. There can also be no more than one local authority governor. All appointments to the governing body must be made within these requirements. Governors are not personally liable if an academy fails, if they act in good faith while carrying out their duty, but an academy is required to take out governor liability insurance, with a minimum cover of ?10 million, to cover the governing body. At first glance, the process for academy conversion can appear daunting, and with the system still in its infancy it is necessary for schools to have a guiding hand through the process. An excellent first port of call for information is the DfE website, which has a wide range of resources, from frequently asked questions to
guides on how to apply for academy status, and can be found at www.education.gov.uk. You can also receive practical advice and assistance as a member of NASBM, including the member discussion forums, where you can network with other school business managers undertaking the process. If you have not yet started the process of conversion then you may wish to attend the ???Converting to Academies??™ events, which are available to book through the NASBM website. These will give you guidance on the process, areas of consideration and planning. To book your place visit www.nasbm.co.uk. NASBM also has affiliated local groups across the country where you can meet other school business managers and gain insights and advice on the process first hand.
All accounted for ??“ academies and finance
Sudhir Singh is Chairman of Charities and Education Group, Baker Tilly
accounts such as internal controls and risk management, reserves and going concern, and conflicts of interest. ??? Accounting systems and software, financial controls and monitoring, accounting policies, asset registers, schemes of delegation and charts of accounts suitable for charity accounting requirements. ??? Establishing the opening financial position of the academy including any surplus/ deficit of former school, valuation of assets on transfer, recognition of the value of land and buildings and the actuarial funding position of pension schemes. ??? Arrangements for payroll preparation and HR advice, including issues on employment tax compliance. ??? Financial management, budgeting and management accounting and use of the accruals accounting concept, which will be new to many schools. Enhanced financial and cash flow projections, so you can demonstrate the school is a going concern and fulfil company director responsibilities. ??? Consideration of the various returns you need to make to the Young People??™s Learning Agency (YPLA) including Whole of Government accounts for the year to 31 March and GAG forms. ??? The need to appoint a Responsible Officer, to consider the scope of their work in line with the Academies Financial Handbook, and the possibility of outsourcing this work to accountants that understand internal audit in schools. ??? Completion for the YPLA of the Academies Financial Management and Governance self evaluation return successfully. ??? Pension scheme arrangements: The Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS), including audited returns; the local LGPS and the accounting requirements for year end accounts which will need the scheme
actuary to provide details of assets and liabilities to include in your balance sheet. External accountancy support may be needed for you to comply with the complex requirements of FRS 17. ??? VAT registration following announcements made at the end of 2010 which ended the previous grant funding arrangement with the YPLA ??“ for some academies this will be highly complex. ??? Corporation tax implications of your commercial and community activities and possibly the establishment of trading subsidiaries. ??? Preparation of year-end statutory accounts for the year to 31 August that comply with the Companies Act 2006, the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice, and guidance provided by YPLA/DfE. ??? Appointment of statutory auditors to report on your financial statements and to provide an opinion on your ???use of funds???, bearing in mind expected changes from the YPLA to change this to a ???regularity??? requirement. Many existing ???Phase 1??? academies have benefited financially from having increased freedoms, and these undoubted exist for converting academies. However to deal with the vast range of new responsibilities you will need to assess the current capability of your in house finance team and consider recruitment or outsourcing as necessary. Some existing academies have encountered significant financial difficulties so it is essential as you embrace academy status that you are well aware of the pitfalls as well as the benefits. Getting things right at the start and taking appropriate professional advice from established academy specialists may appear costly but will be money well spent in the long run.
There are definitely financial challenges to becoming an individual or federated academy and some management teams and governors will undoubtedly find it daunting. The complexities can depend on many factors surrounding your school, its previous status and its financial history.
There are a large number of financial, regulatory and compliance matters which must be considered when establishing an academy and it is important that plans are determined so these can be dealt with effectively. From a finance point of view, conversion must start with strong due diligence. In making the decision to convert you need to know what financial health the school is in before the process begins and to forecast what the likely position will be in the future. Clarity is needed over both the financial and non-financial benefits of academy status and it is important not to over estimate the net difference to the school of the increased funding arising from receiving the Local Authority Central Spend Equivalent Grant. Remember, if things go wrong there is no readily available financial safety net. Some issues you will need to consider are: ??? Governance structures and the roles and responsibilities of governors and finance committee members, as these differ from those of a state school. ??? Adequacy of governance policies and processes, many of which will need to be described in your year end statutory
Independence day ??“ what is the legal process
Martha Burnige, Associate at law firm Veale Wasbrough Vizards, specialises in charity law and academies and has guided dozens of schools through the conversion process.
Academy conversion ??“ managing the process
Below is a summary of the main legal documents and steps the conversion team can take to ensure as quick and smooth an academy transition as possible. in terms of running the academy and the administration of the company.
Lawyers are involved ??“ alongside other advisers ??“ when the Academy Trust draws up its Funding Agreement, a pivotal document that sets out the funding method and agreement to obligations laid down by the Government, relating to matters such as staffing and curriculum. A lawyer should be involved in the transfer of staff to the Academy Trust via a TUPE transfer, which maintains their existing terms and conditions. After conversion, the Academy Trust is no longer bound by the nationally agreed pay and conditions and may choose to consult with staff about contract changes. The Funding Agreement requires that staff be given access to either the TPS or the LGPS (for non-teachers). The LGPS can be in surplus or deficit according to investment performance ??“ most LGPS are currently in deficit. A share of this deficit will transfer to the Academy Trust and will need to be repaid, so consider this before conversion. A transfer agreement should be drawn up between the local authority, the existing governing body and the Academy Trust around the transfer of all the school??™s assets to the Academy Trust. It also assigns responsibility for any claims related to the school made after conversion. Finally, schools will need to take legal advice on the transfer of the school land to the Academy Trust.
The title deeds for the school site should be located as soon as possible. They may be held by the local authority, the school or with solicitors. There can be many issues in relation to school sites, including concerns over rights of access and lost deeds.
Establish a timetable to work back from the proposed conversion date. The DfE will provide schools with deadlines for the submission of various documents.
Staff at the school will transfer to the Academy Trust under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. The school has a duty to inform appropriate representatives of affected employees of specified information in good time ahead of the transfer and, where changes to working practices or terms and conditions are anticipated, a separate duty to consult with the appropriate representatives, including trade unions.
Conversion to academy status can impact upon any existing construction documentation and schools should review any contracts for current construction projects and those completed in the last 12 years.
With schools no longer requiring a ???sponsor??™ and with a reduced role for the local authority in the conversion process, in some ways the legal process has been simplified, but still concerns many schools applying for academy status.
For most schools, conversion will take about a term. Once a school has completed the DfE??™s online ???expression of interest??™ form, the legal process begins. The first step is to form an Academy Trust ??“ the charitable company that will be responsible for operating the school. The school will need to define its governance structure. Typically, the existing governors of the school will become directors of the Academy Trust.
The Academy Trust, local authority and existing governing body should enter into an agreement to transfer the school assets to the Academy Trust. This document also sets out which party will be responsible for any legal claims brought after the conversion has taken place.
The Academy Trust, which enters into the Funding Agreement and operates the academy, is a charitable company limited by guarantee. The articles of association that form the Academy Trust constitution will be based on the DfE model.
Many non-teaching staff will be members of the LGPS. Most of these schemes are currently in deficit. The Academy Trust will inherit a share of the deficit but non-teaching staff are still entitled to be members of the scheme. Teaching staff will continue to be members of the TPS after conversion but the Academy Trust shall not take on any deficit.
The Funding Agreement is the document that governs the relationship between the Academy Trust and the DfE. It sets out the basis on which the Academy Trust receives its funding and the obligations imposed on it
Town End and Bexhill Schools
Freedom to innovate, the sharing of resources and cost savings are the three key factors which prompted two Sunderland schools to become a federation and then an academy.
Town End and Bexhill primary schools are on the same road in Sunderland and, until 2008, were considered rivals. But with the local authority struggling to find a head teacher for Bexhill, Town End head Teresa Laybourne was asked to become executive head teacher for a new federation involving both schools. The move solved the problem and allowed a restructuring of finance. Without paying for two head teachers, the federation was able to invest in a school business manager instead. Teresa explains: ???We were one of the first federations in this region. Although it was a new challenge, running two schools, I realised that it didn??™t mean we all doubled our workloads, we just had to work smarter, look for opportunities to share resource. ???Employing a business manager was vital. While modern teachers have to get used to this new and challenging world and adapt accordingly, they are still primarily here to educate. A business manager helps you see the financial benefits clearly.??? The position was also crucial when the federation opted to convert to academy status ??“ from 1 March 2011 ??“ working with teachers and Lloyds TSB Commercial as the schools
Below you will find a list of useful resources to help you with the decision of whether to become an academy or to assist you through the conversion process if you decide to make the change. Lloyds TSB Commercial
Lloyds TSB Commercial offers a specialist education banking team to provide support and guidance throughout the academy conversion process.
Department for Education
The Department for Education website hosts a range of frequently asked questions on becoming an academy and the online form for schools to complete to register their interest in converting to academy status.
Above: Teresa Laybourne
www.lloydstsb.com/schoolsbanking 0800 681 6078
went through the process which would give the federation greater budgetary control and freedom for the curriculum. Teresa added: ???Savings are an attractive part of federations or academies but the exciting part is innovation. We have been able to introduce a family liaison development officer to work with children and parents who need additional support. This has been a great success and we are keen to look at other things we can do to add value for pupils and parents. ???It feels like we??™re one big team now. I believe parents like the status we have as an academy and we??™ve certainly united two schools in terms of ethos and resources. ???Lloyds TSB Commercial is a part of that. We have been impressed by the seamless transition and ongoing dedication the bank has demonstrated.???
National Association of School Business Management (NASBM)
NASBM supports the training, qualification and professional regulation of school business managers. Members can register their interest in courses and forums for guidance on becoming an academy.
www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/ typesofschools/academies 0370 000 2288
Veale Wasbrough Vizards
Veale Wasbrough Vizards is a specialist, national law firm that has guided dozens of schools through the academy conversion process.
www.nasbm.co.uk 01788 573300
Baker Tilly is an accountancy firm that acts as auditors to almost 40 academies across the country.
www.vwv.co.uk/site/sectors/ maintainedschools/academy_conversions London: 020 7405 1234 Bristol: 0117 9252020
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Lloyds TSB Commercial has a nationwide team of specialist relationship managers, trained to understand the financial challenges facing schools. Lloyds TSB Commercial school banking account customers can benefit from: ??? Free day-to-day* banking to make the most of your resources ??? Your own locally-based relationship manager specialising in education ??? Direct access to a support team specialising in finance for the educational sector ??? Tailored and bespoke solutions to help you make the most of your funds ??? Access to the expertise of selected companies across Lloyds Banking Group for other financial needs www.lloydstsb.com/schoolsbanking 0800 681 6078
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