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 John Clare Primary School, and authorise the execution and completion of a Commercial Transfer Agreement (CTA) between Peterborough City Council, the Governing Body of John Clare 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 John Clare Primary School (including the pre-school/out of school club), at a peppercorn rent to Soke Education Trust;
3. Authorised entering into Deeds of Assignment or Novation with Soke Education Trust (and 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 14 August 2009 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) RF Blount & Sons Limited;
b) Contract dated 21 July 2010 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) PGR Construction;
c) Sub-contractor warranty dated 11 June 2010 between (1) Harlow Bros Ltd (2) PGR Constuction (3) Peterborough City Council; and
d) Sub-contractor warranty dated 10 August 2010 between (1) Roger Bullivant Limited (2) PGR Construction (3) Peterborough City Council.
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 school 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 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 reserved public right of way contained on the land within the proposed lease.
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 John Clare 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 interest in (or novate if applicable) RF Blount & Sons Limited and PGR Construction contracts and sub-contractor warranties between Harlow Bros Ltd, PGR Construction and the Council and Roger Bullivant Limited, PGR Construction and the Council to the Trust: This option was rejected because if the Council retained the benefit of the contracts and warranties, 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 and sub-contractor warranties allows the Trust to deal with any such claims directly.
To retain the pre-school/out of school club and exclude these from the lease to the Trust: This option was ruled out as these provisions are delivered from within the school building and grounds.
Publication date: 29/11/2017
Date of decision: 29/11/2017
Effective from: 05/12/2017