Academy Conversion

With a reassuring no-nonsense approach, we provide specialist support for schools seeking Academy Conversion and legal advice post conversion for as long as necessary.

We offer clients from the education sector truly practical advice, based on in-depth knowledge of the law along with a thorough understanding of the particular needs of schools. KBL has a dedicated education team, members of which have the professional experience and expertise to understand the sector's specialist issues and to provide the precise guidance required by a school. 

The practice is committed to protecting the interests of the school, not those of the local authority. Naturally it goes without saying that confidentiality in all matters, at all times, is fundamental to the practice's ethos. Our specialist team can help and advise schools in many different areas, including:

  • Education commercial agreements
  • Contracts with suppliers and parents, data protection, IT and protecting the school brand
  • Human resources and employment law - drafting and reviewing employment contracts/policies
  • Governance and charity status - advising on the powers and potential conflicts for governors and the implications of the Charities Act 2006
  • Dispute resolution and debt recovery
  • Intellectual property - copyright, trademarks etc.Joint ventures and financing
  • Projects and procurement
  • Property including leases, boundary issues, purchases and estate management

If converting to an Academy, the Governing Body will need advice on a number of areas including:

  • Human resources and employment law - managing the transfer of employees under TUPE
  • Property - the transfer of land and assets
  • Establishing the 'Academy Trust' which will be responsible for running the Academy
  • Contracts / agreements - advice on commercial transfer and funding agreements

We take particular pride in guiding schools efficiently and professionally through the long and often tortuous legal road to successful conversion from local authority status to Academy.

Academy Conversion Property Services

We deal with land isses that arise as part of the conversion process. We will identify the school type and land owner.

  • Community school: local authority
  • Voluntary aided/controlled school: local authority, a thirdparty (diocese, charitable trust) or a mixture of both.
  • Foundation school: a third party, the governing body or amixture of both.
  • Trust school: the trust 

We will identify whether the land is public or private

If the land has been acquired or enhanced at public expense, it may be public. Land held by a local authority will remain with the authority and a lease will be granted to the academy trust. The DfE has produced a model lease, which should be broadly followed. 

Public land may be held by the governing body. Land held by a school's foundation can also be public if it has been acquired or enhanced at public expense. In these cases, the secretary of state has said that the freehold title should be transferred to the academy trust, which could be by direction of the secretary of state. If the secretary of state does not make a direction, the land may revert to the local authority and a lease will be granted to the academy trust. This is often the case where a voluntary aided school has acquired additional playing field land.

If the land has not been acquired or enhanced at public expense and constitutes private land, the secretary of state has no power to make such a direction, and the academy trust must agree a lease with the foundation (or other party) that owns the land. Usually land held by the local authority, will remain with the authority and a lease will be granted to the academy trust. 

We will prepare a report on title 

This is sent to the DfE. Issues concerning the land transfer or leases will need to be dealt with at this time. 

We will negotiate/agree the transfer/model lease 

A model lease is used where local authorities own the school site. But there is no bar on foundations or other third parties adopting the model lease in relation to private land used for the purposes of the proposed academy. 

The model lease grants to the academy a 125-year term. This can be ended early if the academy's funding agreement is terminated, for example. The academy will not pay rent but it will be responsible for repairing the building and for insuring the buildings. The repair obligation is limited, so that the academy is responsible only for: damage it causes to the property; and any deterioration of the property from the date of the lease. 

An academy will need to take care in relation to deterioration: it may be difficult in 10 or 20 years to show that disrepair existed at the date of the lease. It may be possible to attach a schedule of condition to the lease or put in place other evidence of the state of repair at the time of the lease.

 

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