This toolkit details the stages in the process of converting a school to academy status.
What are academies?
Academies are charitable companies limited by guarantee and are independent, state-funded schools. Academies are not maintained by a local authority but have capital and running costs met by central Government. Academies, therefore, still have to adhere to some of the Department for Education (DfE) statutory guidance.
Why convert to an academy?
Converting to an academy enables schools to establish their own priorities. Academies can, for example, set pay and conditions for staff, choose how the curriculum is designed and taught and can change the length of terms and school days. All maintained schools can apply to convert to become an academy.
Converting to an academy: flowchart
Flowchart: converting to an academy
Key stages in the academy conversion process
Consult all stakeholders to ensure converting to an academy is a joint decision.
Act as a group to increase the degree of shared commitment and reduce the risk of disagreement.
Explore the academy conversion process from every angle before you go ahead.
Application to convert/pre-approval checks
Obtaining a funding agreement
Schools can apply for a grant from the DfE to assist with covering the costs associated with the converting to an academy.
Set up an academy trust and introduce suitable governance documents.
The school governing body is required to conduct a consultation before the funding agreement is signed.
Also see Q&A: Academy Conversion: Information and Consultation.
The trust signs the agreement with the Secretary of State for Education when the consultation is completed.
The funding agreement forms the legal basis for opening the academy on the date specified in the agreement.
Ensure that all legal requirements are completed.
Contact relevant external bodies and agencies to ensure they are fully aware of the school’s new status.
Check that all relevant information has been registered to ensure a smooth transition to academy status on the day of opening.
The process for a school to convert to an academy generally takes five months. It may take longer if the school has any Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) contracts.
Complete a conversion process template form to keep track of key actions as they are completed during each stage of the academy conversion process.
Transferring staff during academy conversion
Transferring staff is covered by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). Academy conversion tips — preparing for a TUPE transfer.
Under TUPE, the employees of the school transfer with all their contractual rights and obligations (although special arrangements apply to occupational pensions) to the new employer — the governing body of the academy.
The outgoing employer (the school) is obliged to inform affected employees (school staff) using Potentially Affected Staff — Regulation 13 Letter.
The school is obliged to inform the trade union representatives about the intended transfer using Trade Union or Employee Representatives — Regulation 13 Letter.
The school must provide information to the new employer (the academy) at least 28 days before the transfer.
Last reviewed 30 May 2023