Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Education Skills and University
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Cabinet Member:
1. Approved the closure of Gunthorpe Primary School and authorise the execution and completion of a Commercial Transfer Agreement (CTA) between Peterborough City Council, the Governing Body of Gunthorpe Primary School and Soke Education Trust;
2. Authorised the grant of a 125 year lease of the land and buildings occupied by the School known as Gunthorpe Primary School (including the internal nursery but excluding the external families centre), at a peppercorn rent to Soke Education Trust;
3. Authorised entering into Deeds of Assignment or Novation with Soke Education Trust (an if applicable, the relevant contractor(s)) to assign the Council’s interest in (or novate if applicable) the following contracts, to Soke Education Trust, to give effect to the terms of the CTA:
a) Contract dated 10 October 2005 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) Bernard Ward Limited;
b) Contract dated 17 November 2006 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) L. Garfield (Builders) Limited;
c) Contract dated 28 October 2010 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) L. Garfield (Builders) Limited;
d) Contract dated 29 October 2014 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) Benchmark Contracts Limited.
The Council is obliged under the Academies Act 2010 to cease maintaining a school on the date it opens as an Academy. The DfE expect Local Authorities to co-operate with the Academy conversion process, once approved by the Secretary of State for Education.
The Council’s consent is not required for a school to convert to an Academy and if the Council does not cooperate with the conversion process and negotiate and enter into lease arrangements and a CTA, the Secretary of State has the power to make transfer schemes under the Academies Act 2010 in relation to property, land, rights and liabilities (including rights and liabilities in relation to staff) which would be binding on the Council. It is therefore preferable for the Council to reach agreement with the Governing Body of the Schools and Trust and enter into the lease arrangements and CTA in respect of these matters, rather than be subject to transfer schemes made by the Secretary of State.
The proposed lease to the Trust includes the land currently occupied and used for the purposes of the school (including the internal nursery but excluding the external families centre). The lease will contain a clause to protect early years provision throughout the term of the lease.
The CTA sets out the respective obligations of the Governing Body of the School, the Council and the Trust arising from the academy conversion in relation to employees, contracts and assets (other than land), and the liabilities of each of the parties in that regard.
Under the proposed terms of the CTA, the Council is obliged to assign the benefit of contracts entered into by the Council for the purpose of operating the school, to the academy trust, and recommendation 3 therefore requests authority to enter into a Deed of Assignment or Novation with the Trust to give effect to the terms of the CTA.
The Governing Body of the School is also obliged, under the proposed terms of the CTA, to assign and/or novate contracts it has entered into for the purpose of operating the School, to the academy trust.
There is a charge of £5,000 from the Council for every school converting into an Academy to contribute towards the associated costs for the Council.
Refuse the closure of Gunthorpe Primary School and the transfer to academy status: Once the school has been accepted for academy status by the Secretary of State, the Council is required to support the decision. Failure to cooperate could result in the Secretary of State making transfer schemes which would be binding on the Council.
Not to transfer the premises: This option was rejected because the Department for Education guidance specifies that the land held by the Local Authority is to be leased to the Academy on a 125 year lease for a peppercorn rent and failure to follow the guidance and cooperate could result in the Secretary of State making a transfer scheme in relation to the land.
Sell the site to the Trust: This option was rejected because there is no requirement for the Trust to buy land (for which no funding has been made available) and the Council would prefer to retain ownership.
Not to assign the benefit of the Council’s Bernard Ward Limited, L Garfield (Builders) Limited and Benchmark Contracts Limited contracts to the Trust: This option was rejected because if the Council retained the benefit of the contracts, if any claim in relation to those works in respect of the school were to arise, it is likely that the Council would then have to become involved or take action on behalf of the Trust. Assigning the benefit of the contracts allows the Trust to deal with any such claims directly.
Not to include the internal nursery and to include the external families centre in the lease to the Trust: This option was rejected because of the location of the nursery within the school building. As the families centre building is located outside of the main school building and school site the Council would not lease this building to the Trust.
Publication date: 29/11/2017
Date of decision: 29/11/2017
Effective from: 05/12/2017