Academy Schools

Academy Schools

Guiding Governors and Leadership Teams through the DfE’s academisation processes.
Our Schools and Academies team can steer you through the process, liaising between the schools (or MAT) and the Department for Education.

Why seek legal advice

The processes involved in converting a maintained school to Academy status, forming a multi-academy trust (“MAT”), or bringing new schools into a MAT can be daunting. Our Schools and Academies team can steer you through the process, liaising between the schools (or MAT) and the Department for Education.

We guide Governors and Senior Leadership Teams through the DfE’s academisation processes. Every school or academy is different, and we will be on hand to address any issues which arise. We can help whether you are a maintained school considering conversion, a MAT taking on additional school(s), or a stand-alone academy wishing to become part of a MAT.

  • Clear guidance throughout the process
  • Ensure DfE timetables complied with
  • Required documents prepared by experts
  • Wide experience of negotiating with Local Authorities
  • Land transactions concluded efficiently
Academy schools lawyer
Solicitors in Poole

Why choose HK Law?

We are experienced in liaising with the DfE, Local Authorities and other stakeholders; preparing funding agreements and transfer of documents; dealing with the school site and other property issues; assistance with the TUPE process for the transfer of employees; and preparation for governor, staff, and other consultation meetings.

  • Expert advice on DfE documentation, land transactions and employee transfers: Specialist lawyers deal with each element of the conversion
  • Experienced at dealing with DfE and LAs: Our team has advised on academisation since 2010 when the current legislation came into force.
  • Assistance with due diligence if required: Needed to verify the school’s financial status, site and buildings, administration and record-keeping.
  • Guidance through TUPE process: Whereby the employment of each member of staff of the incoming school is transferred to the MAT
  • Ensure documents finalised and submitted in accordance with DfE timelines
  • We understand “best value” principles: Our hourly rates are competitive, and we always give realistic cost estimates at the outset.
Caroline Carretta HK Law

Your questions answered

Caroline Carretta – Partner, Head of Corporate & Commercial Law Team
  • What are the benefits of academy status?
    Academies are state schools which have, in the main, severed connections with the local authority (LA). They receive their funding directly from the central government (rather than funds flowing through the LA). Academies have more freedom than maintained schools to make decisions on finances, curriculum, term dates and teachers’ pay.
  • How long does the conversion process take?
    Once the initial application to become an academy has been processed by the DfE, consultations must be held with staff, parents and other stakeholders. Legal documents including funding agreements, transfer agreements, leases or land transfers and shared use agreements must be prepared, approved and entered into. The process generally takes 3-6 months.
  • Should the MAT carry out due diligence on Schools wanting to join?
    Thorough due diligence is part of the risk management process for any MAT taking on a new school. The due diligence process generally covers the financial, educational and premises position of the incoming school. It helps the MAT identify risks and assess mitigation strategies and associated costs, in order to make an informed decision.
  • How would governance and decision-making change if our school jointed a MAT?
    The governance structure of each school within a MAT is set by the MAT itself. Each MAT will determine what decisions may be made by the leadership team or local governing body, and which matters which are reserved for the Board of Trustees of the MAT. You should therefore clarify this with the relevant MAT.
  • Will the school still have a governing body after joining the MAT?
    Many (but not all) MATs maintain a “local governing body” (“LGB”) for each school (which often replicates the Governing Body of the incoming schools). The MAT will decide what decisions can be made by the LGB.
  • What are the main steps in the conversion process?
    The governing body must formally resolve to convert and submit an “Application to Convert Form” to the DfE. An Academy Order will be issued by the DfE, and a conversion date agreed. Staff, parents and other stakeholders must be consulted. Legal documents (Land Questionnaire, Funding Agreement, lease of the site, and Transfer Agreement) must be prepared, negotiated, signed and submitted to the DfE.
  • Our school is a C of E School. Does this affect the process?
    Yes, the Diocese must consent before Church schools may convert, and will be involved throughout the process. Supplemental Agreements regarding the school site will need to be entered into between the MAT and the Diocese. There are requirements for diocesan involvement in academy governance, designed to ensure that the religious character of the school is safeguarded.
  • What are the implications for staff if a school converts to academy status?
    The school staff will automatically become employees of the MAT, under legal regulations known as “TUPE”. Staff will be informed and consulted about the transfer, with Union representatives involved in the consultations. Terms of employment of transferring staff are protected. If any staff decline to transfer, their employment will come to an end.

By Darren Francis, Associate Solicitor

Find a Academy Schools expert in your area

HK Law Blandford office


The newest of the HK Law offices and proud to service the people and businesses of Blandford and the surrounding area.

HK Law Bournemouth office


Our Bournemouth Solicitors, based at our office in Southbourne, are here to support you with all the personal and business legal needs.

Somerset Solicitors


HK Law’s history in Crewkerne dates back to 1749, making it the longest standing solicitors firm in the country.

HK Law Blandford office


With offices at 40 High West Street and 1 Colliton Walk, our expert team provides a comprehensive range of legal services to the people of Dorchester and surrounding areas.

HK Law Parkstone office


Our Parkstone solicitors, based in the heart of Ashley Cross, are here to offer you expert local legal advice.

Poole Solicitors


Our HK Law team in Poole assist local clients with their legal requirements.  Local to you, we are always on-hand to meet up whenever it suits you.

HK Law Swanage office


HK Law have held a strong presence in Swanage for generations. When it comes to client care, we pride ourselves on a modern approach backed up by traditional values.

HK Law Wareham office


Wareham is the office from which HK evolved. Today our Wareham office prides itself on offering the town a full range of legal services whilst keeping things simple and personal.

Our Academy Schools team

Associate FCILEX

Managing Partner

Chartered Legal Executive

Private Client Executive



Conveyancing Executive