The ABC of converting to an Academy (plus D, E & F!)
Many schools struggle with the question whether or when to convert to academy status.
Circumstances may mean that the decision is effectively made for you, but there may still be some choice on how you become an academy or who you partner with.
This short article is intended to offer some tips for you to keep or pass on.
Ask other schools. One of the best resources for schools thinking about academy status is to ask an existing academy about their experience. What were the pressure points? What would they do differently? However, remember that whilst the destination may appear the same it could be a significantly different journey for you.
More important is to ask others "what does academy status bring them?" and to ask yourself "what can you do with academy status?". Why should it be the same after conversion as it was before; what was the point?
Be prepared. The question you don't know to ask could be the most significant question you wish you had asked. If you don't know what you are doing then find support from someone who does.
Conversion will happen; it may simply take time to sort out any issues which do arise. Land can give rise to the more significant issues such as boundaries, multiple site users, PFI and other funder consents such as Sports England. However, don't forget basic good governance and the need to familiarise yourself with the new charitable and company structure.
Don’t Panic. Once you have your Academy Order the rollercoaster will begin, so work with your advisors. It is essential to plan ahead and to give yourself as much time as may be possible to deal with the issues which can arise, most of which can be anticipated.
Each project is different. Each school has its own history which makes it what it is today, but which also sets its starting point on the path to academy status. Whilst different, most issues will have been seen before and there are solutions which have been previously agreed with DfE.