Academy Website and Information Disclosure Requirements
We look at academy disclosure requirements - an area where some academies unwittingly fall short, particularly in relation to information on websites
The Secretary of State has made clear, including in the latest Academy Financial Handbook 2015, that there is an increasing focus on improving governance in academies. In part this is emphasised through disclosure requirements. Many academy trusts currently fail to meet their statutory and contractual disclosure requirements:
1. New company name regulations came into force in January this year* which require disclosure of the full name of the academy trust at each of the schools (which are part of the trust) and at the registered office (if that isn't the school address). (*The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015)
2. In addition, the regulations require that:
- full name of the academy trust;
- its company number;
- the fact it is a limited company;
- that it is registered in England and Wales; and
- its registered office details;
are prominently displayed:
(a) on the trust's website;
(b) at the trust's registered office and school(s); and
(c) on any official notices, letters and correspondence. It is particular important that any cheques, orders or other agreements (including letters and emails) bear the company name. Failure to do so can impose personal liability on the person signing or sending the correspondence.
3. Under its funding agreement, the academy trust agrees to post to its website:
(a) a copy of its memorandum and articles of association;
(b) its statutory accounts and annual report;
(c) a copy of its funding agreement(s);
(d) information on:
(i) the name of trustees, governors and members;
(ii) relevant school information about:
a. pupil premium, curriculum;
b. results and data;
c. accessing Ofsted reports and school performance.
4. The Academies Financial Handbook 2015 requires the following additional matters to be disclosed on the academy trust's website:
(a) Business and financial interests of members, directors and local governors. Trusts do have discretion whether to publish the business and financial interests of close family relations (or connected parties), which must in any event be maintained in the trusts' register of business interests.
(b) Governance arrangements must be published in a readily accessible format which is not satisfied through annual reports or by clicking on PDFs uploaded onto your website. You must have a designated governance webpage where all of the required information is accessible.
Maintained schools do have similar disclosure requirements (save for the company related details).
It should not be overlooked that all schools also need to ensure that their website satisfies their legal obligations to disabled people. There are also practical reasons for schools to go beyond minimum legal or contractual requirements to ensure accessibility to all users regardless of which type of device, hardware and software they may be using.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Chris Billington on 0113 244 6100.
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors