Becoming an academy - when is the right time for your school to convert?

By the end of 2016, approximately 1 in 5 state funded primary schools in England were academies. This proportion is likely to increase rapidly over the next few years, gathering pace as more and more schools convert either through choice or through enforcement.

Despite the apparent change of policy direction, it’s clear the Government still intends all state funded schools in England to become academies. The National Schools Commissioner, confirmed this position in December 2016 saying, “The government hopes and expects that all schools will want to become academies if they are not already.” The Education and Adoption Act 2016 included additional powers making increased academy conversion inevitable.

Now, more than ever, schools need to understand the issues and risks relating to becoming an academy.

Whether you have a choice or are being forced to convert, you should plan a thorough self-evaluation to provide you with a road map as you gather and evaluate accurate information. Do you know where your blind spots are?

Top tips for your academy conversion self-evaluation plan;

  • Understand your current capacity for the challenges ahead
  • Understand the skills pool of your team and the additional skills you will need to call on in the future
  • Understand how you will ensure continuity and succession of leadership and governance
  • Revisit what makes your school special and what matters most as you plan for the future
  • Understand changes in responsibilities and liabilities if you convert
  • Understand how decision making processes and accountability will change if you convert
  • Identify strengths and differences between Multi Academy Trusts you might wish to approach
  • Keep a record of all issues, risks and decisions identified through your self-evaluation – systematically record how these issues can be resolved and risks can be mitigated
  • Consider how you will consult, both formally and informally, and keep stakeholders informed and engaged.
  • Regularly review your plan to encourage you with your progress to help you to see the wood for the trees

More than anything else, ensure that every element of your plan reflects what is best for your pupils – review your plan against this at each stage

If your school is considering becoming an academy and you need help deciding whether now is the right time, read our free guide, detailing the issues you should consider.

Download your free copy of our guide to help decide if you school should become an academy

Ian Purnell

Ian Purnell

Ian Purnell, one of Tribal’s Education Specialists, is an experienced Headteacher leading 3 schools over a period of 14 years. He also has 7 years experience supporting many primary schools engage effectively with major capital construction projects (both expansions and new builds). Most recently he has also been supporting academy and free school applications and working with a new and growing Multi Academy Trust.

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