Academies

The Diocesan Board of Education has reviewed its policy regarding schools converting to academy status and this can be found here.

There is a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department for Education which applies to all Church of England schools taking on academy status and to any statutory action to support, challenge or intervene in any underperforming Church of England maintained school or academy.  It can be seen here.

Schools may choose to become academies (but require the consent of the Diocesan Board of Education before doing so), or under certain circumstances the Secretary of State can require them to become academies. In both cases this normally will be as part of a multi-academy trust (MAT). 

If the Secretary of State requires the school to become an academy, it will require a sponsor and the DBE will normally seek to be that sponsor.  Chester Diocesan Academies Trust (CDAT) is the Diocesan MAT and would be the required sponsor, however CDAT welcomes any school that would like to join with other church schools in this Diocesan MAT. More information on CDAT can be found here.  Other schools may decide to work together and form a MAT.  DBE officers can provide more details of these. The only circumstances in which the DBE will agree to schools joining a MAT is if they join the Diocesan MAT or one formed on church school documents.

A Church School which converts to an academy will automatically maintain its religious designation. The appropriate documents for church schools which guarantee their ethos and protect the position of trustees are available on the DfE website here. Before making an application to convert to academy status, school governing bodies and headteachers should thoroughly consider a number of issues and be prepared to discuss these in detail with relevant stakeholders and the DBE (through the Diocesan Director of Education). Before supporting a church school wishing to obtain academy status, the DBE will need to be satisfied that:

Converting to an academy is in the best interest of the school, its pupils and the wider context in which the school operates;

It is represented on the academy trust;

  • The academy agreement, Memorandum and Articles of Association and land agreement will be those appropriate for Church of England schools;

  • The consultation processes demonstrates widespread support for the proposal, including from any other body who appoints governors.

  • There is a viable business plan, a due diligence exercise has been carried out and all risks arising mitigated;

  • The school can demonstrate its commitment to collaborative working, particularly with the DBE and the wider school family;

  • The proposed admissions policy complies with the DBE's guidance;

  • The school agrees that any extra costs incurred by the DBE in establishing the academy will be borne by the school, using its own funds and the £25k set up grant available from DfE.

The process for converting to an academy is as follows:

  1. Governing body researches academy status and possible Multi-Academy Trusts

  2. Headteacher/Chair of Governors contacts the Diocesan Director of Education to discuss possibilities and plans

  3. Governing body decides to move towards academy status and minutes this resolution

  4. Governing body consults with Stakeholders (this is not required by the DfE prior to application but the DBE recommends that it is done at this stage)

  5. Application form completed and returned to the DBE

  6. School representatives (usually the headteacher and chair) present case to DBE panel

  7. If agreed the DBE gives conditional consent using the DFE model letter

  8. If not agreed the school may appeal the decision and the appeal will be heard by DBE members not involved in the initial panel. The decision of this body is final.

  9. Legal work is undertaken and final approval of documentation given by the DBE. 

Please note that DBE members are not based at Church House and so at least one week’s notice will need to be given with regards to obtaining signatures and we would advise that your legal firm prepare counterparts so that signatures can be obtained more easily.

To access an application form and for further information please contact Sue Noakes on 01928 718834 or sue.noakes@chester.anglican.org