Academy Conversion (Jack Hunt Group) of Longthorpe Primary School - FEB18/CMDN/102
Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Education
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Academy conversion of maintained primary school. To authorise the execution and completion of a Commercial Transfer agreement (CTA) between the Council and the Academy Trust and to authorise a 125 year lease to the Academy Trust.
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 the Academy 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 Academy Trust includes the land currently occupied and used for the purposes of the school (including the pre-school). The lease will contain a provision to protect clawback and the early years provision.
The CTA sets out the respective obligations of the Governing Body of the school, the Council and the Academy 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 Peterborough Keys Academies Trust.
There is a charge of £5,000 from the Council for every school converting into an academy to contribute towards the associated costs.
Alternative options considered:
Refuse the closure of Longthorpe Primary School as a maintained 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 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 pre-school: This option was rejected due to the location of the pre-school within the school building.
Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:
Publication date: 16/02/2018
Date of decision: 16/02/2018
Effective from: 22/02/2018