Academy Conversion (Jack Hunt Group) of Ravensthorpe Primary School - FEB18/CMDN/99
Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and University
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Academy conversion of maintained primary school. The execution and completion of a Commercial Transfer agreement (CTA) between the Council and the Academy Trust. The authorisation of 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 schools 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, and also the pre-school/children’s centre and nursery. The lease will contain clauses to protect the early years provision and prevent clawback.
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 or Novation with the Trust to give effect to the terms of the CTA.
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 Ravensthorpe 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 assignment or novation to assign the Council’s interest (or novate if applicable) in the contracts listed under recommendation 4: 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 transfer the pre-school/children’s centre and nursery: This option was rejected due to the location of these provisions within the school site.
Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:
Publication date: 16/02/2018
Date of decision: 16/02/2018
Effective from: 22/02/2018