Decision details

Academy Conversion - JUNE17/CMDN/09

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)    To approved the closure of Abbotsmede Primary School, and authorise the execution and completion of a Commercial Transfer Agreement (CTA) between Peterborough City Council, the Governing Body of Abbotsmede Primary School and The Lime Trust;


2)    To authorised the grant of a 125 year lease of the land and buildings occupied by the School known as Abbotsmede Primary School (including the nursery contained within the School), at a peppercorn rent to The Lime Trust; and


3)    To authorised the execution and completion of a Licence to enter and Landlord’s refurbishment works between Peterborough City Council and The Lime 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 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, together with the nursery contained within the School. The lease will contain clauses to ensure guaranteed early years provision in respect of the nursery.


The Children’s Centre will not be included within the lease to the Lime Trust and is to be retained by the Council. Provisions regarding the Children’s Centre’s use of car parking facilities will be included within 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.


As part of the CTA, the Council will transfer the sum of £27,600 to the Trust shortly after conversion. The reasoning for this is explained in paragraphs 9.2.3 and 9.2.4 below.


As part of the conversion documents, the Council has agreed to carry out certain works to the School post-conversion. These works will be documented in a Licence between the Council and the Trust. Issues relating to roofing and pipe works had already been highlighted by the School and investigations were underway prior to notification of conversion. Works regarding the roofs and renewal of pipework will be funded by the Council as the Council’s tender process is already underway and the works were already planned, irrespective of the conversion.


Alternative options considered:

Refuse the closure of Abbotsmede 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.


Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:


Background Documents:


Publication date: 21/06/2017

Date of decision: 21/06/2017

Effective from: 27/06/2017

Accompanying Documents: