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

There are four main stages in the academy conversion process.

  1. Registration

    • 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.

  2. Application to convert/pre-approval checks

  3. Obtaining a funding agreement

  4. Pre-opening activities

    • 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

Last reviewed 30 May 2023