Setting up Academy Trusts or Free Schools

Converting a school to an academy, setting up a new free school, forming a group under a multi-academy trust and running the new organisation once it is set up, all bring a series of opportunities and challenges. Operating under these new arrangements can be quite a daunting experience at first. Following several recent scandals and press coverage, there is an increased focus on good governance, accounting and propriety controls, in particular the need to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure proper stewardship of public money. It is important that academy promoters, managers, trustee directors and governors understand and comply with their responsibilities and duties.

An academy trust is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. As a company, it has an independent legal identity, can enter into contracts, employ staff and be sued in its own name. It enjoys a fair degree of autonomy and opportunities to innovate (within the constraints set by the Department for Education’s Funding Agreement and Financial Handbook), but the trade-off for this is more responsibility on the managers and trustees to run the school’s affairs prudently and professionally. As a company with ‘exempt charity’ status, the trust and its managers must also comply with duties laid down by company law and charity law.

Elderflower Legal can help you to:

  • Convert your school to academy status
  • Review and put in place constitutional and governance arrangements which are fit for purpose (e.g. creating a standalone trust, multi academy trust or umbrella trust for a group of schools)
  • Understand and comply with regulations
  • Carry out due diligence
  • Identify and manage risks effectively
  • Develop effective policies and procedures
  • Set up successful contracts and comply with public procurement rules
  • Enter into sucessful partnerships with other schools and agencies

Contact us today for an informal discussion:  abcd

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We can also help you with…

  • Converting your school to an academy trust
  • Working with multi-academy trusts on acquisitions and due diligence
  • Governance structures and constitutions
  • Governance audits and board effectiveness reviews
  • Premises issues
  • Dealing with regulations and compliance
  • Contracts and service level agreements
  • Protecting your ideas & intellectual property
  • Employment law & TUPE
  • Disputes and problems

Why choose us?

We have worked with a wide range of schools, free schools, academy trusts and multi-academy trusts over the past 10 years, (including voluntary aided, voluntary-controlled and foundation schools and the conversion of an independent school into a free school). Having held positions as school governor and academy trust board member, we understand the challenges you face and the pressures you are under. We can quickly help you find cost-effective practical solutions, providing peace of mind and reassurance in setting up academy trusts or free schools.

Our team is led by experienced commercial lawyer and chartered company secretary, Mark Johnson. With over 23 years in legal practice advising private, public and third sector clients and experience of running his own businesses, Mark offers practical no-nonsense advice to help your organisation flourish.

Incensu Registration Mark Low Res_small
We are an Incensu registered supplier and member of the National Governors Association.

Converting a School into an Academy: A Routemap
Clients often ask us to explain the process for converting a school into an academy. We have condensed the key steps involved in converting a school into an academy into this handy infographic which can be shared with your governors and wider stakeholders.

Download our Free Guide to Academies & Free Schools and our Special Report on Hallmarks of Good Governance in Academy Trusts.

You may also want to download our Briefing Paper on Due Diligence for Schools joining a Multi Academy Trust. This paper outlines some key questions and issues schools will need to probe before forming or joining a Multi Academy Trust. We offer a fixed price due diligence product EduDiligence. Find out more…

To discuss how we could help you with fixed price ‘no nonsense’ legal advice for your academy conversion get in touch today.

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What our clients say

Elderflower Legal has helped us to manage commercial risks and resolve problems quickly and effectively. Mark’s approach is to ‘roll up his sleeves’ and provide practical support, rather than legal theory.
Jason Pickford, Owner, Digital Transcendent Limited
Mark is an experienced and knowledgeable Legal Adviser who has provided a wealth of services to our groups, including a company secretarial service and strategic advice on all manner of contracts, leases, policies and funding options. His support has been invaluable and his practical yet open approach has proved second to none.
Melanie Hilton, Account Leader, Schools & Trusts at Arcadis