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Decision details

Academy Conversion (Soke Educational Trust) Werrington Primary School - NOV17/CMDN/63

Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and University

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes

Purpose:

The Cabinet Member is recommended:

 

1.    Approved the closure of Werrington Primary School, and authorise the execution and completion of a Commercial Transfer Agreement (CTA) between Peterborough City Council, the Governing Body of Werrington 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 Werrington Primary School (including the out of school club), at a peppercorn rent to Soke Education Trust;

 

3.    Authorised entering into Deeds of Novation with Soke Education Trust and the Governing Body of Werrington Primary School, for the following contracts to be novated from the Governing Body of Werrington Primary School to the Soke Education Trust:

 

a)    Solar Power Purchase Agreement dated 29 May 2012 between (1) Werrington Primary School (2) Peterborough City Council; and

 

b)    PV System Roof Access Agreement dated 29 May 2012 between (1) Werrington Primary School (2) Peterborough City Council

 

4.    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 3 December 2008 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) L. Garfield (Builders) Ltd;

 

b)    Contract dated 9 August 2012 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) Princebuild Ltd;

 

c)    Contract dated 28 July 2014 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) Princebuild Ltd; and

 

Contract dated 21 July 2014 between (1) Peterborough City Council (2) V Couzens (Stamford) Ltd.

Reasons for the decision:

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 proposed lease to the Trust includes the land currently occupied and used for the purposes of the school (including the out of school club). 

 

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 4 therefore requests authority to enter into a Deed of Assignment 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. The Governing Body of the school has contracts with the Council in respect of solar panels which are located on the school, and recommendation 3 requests authority to enter into Deeds of Novation to enable the Governing Body of the school to novate those to Soke Education Trust. 

 

The Council has agreed to indemnify the Trust up to the sum of £2,500 for additional lagging on internal water pipes.  This is an action which was decided upon prior to conversion.

 

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.

 

Alternative options considered:

Refuse the closure of Werrington 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 in interest in (or novate if applicable) the Garfield (Builders) Ltd, Princebuild Ltd and V Couzens (Stamford) Ltd 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 entering into deeds of novation to enable the Governing Body of the school to novate the solar panel contracts to the Trust:  This option was rejected, as this would result in the Council not having the proper documentation in place with the Trust in respect of the solar panels located on the school.

 

Not to include the out of school club in the lease:  This option was rejected because this provision is delivered from within the school building and grounds.

 

 

Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:

None.

Background Documents:

None.

Publication date: 29/11/2017

Date of decision: 29/11/2017

Effective from: 05/12/2017

Accompanying Documents: