Over the past few weeks, Nicky Collins, Partner at Slater Heelis LLP has been guiding us through the process of converting to an Academy. In this final post, we look at the pre-opening and finally the opening of the new academy.
Whilst your solicitors and professional advisors will deal with the legal and financial processes, the MAT will need to deal with the practical aspects of conversion, for example: obtaining a new establishment number; transferring its computer licences; obtaining new branding and signage (if required); opening a new bank account; agreeing levels of funding with the Education Funding Agency; arranging new insurance; setting up appropriate provision for pensions. This is not an exhaustive list but highlights the type of matters that need to be considered.
There are also the tasks of appointing MAT officers and auditors and notifying the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Exam Boards.
With the correct planning and professional advice, you will have arrived unscathed, ready to open the new Academy.
If the conversion has gone smoothly, it is unlikely that staff, pupils and parents will notice any significant day-to-day changes but you will be in a position to take advantage of the freedoms that are associated with academy status.
Your solicitors will deal with as much of the legal side of the transition as they can. However, you should ensure that you have sufficient resources to direct towards the conversion process internally whilst maintaining the best education of your pupils. There is a great deal of information which needs to be supplied for the process to work smoothly and schools should not underestimate the work involved.
Nicky Collins is a corporate and commercial partner at Slater Heelis and has over 20 years’ experience advising clients on their acquisitions, disposals and restructures as well as their banking facilities and re-finances and commercial contracts. The Slater Heelis Schools and Academies team are specialists in helping schools complete their conversion as swiftly and efficiently as possible. If you are currently in the process of converting or are considering converting in the future and have any questions, please contact the team on 0161 969 3131.