Getting ahead on academy status

23rd March 2016

In his Spring Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that all schools must convert to academies by 2020. This was closely followed by the unveiling of a new white paper by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, which outlined the government’s proposals to transform schools. 

There has been a mixed reaction about what the reforms mean for pupils, teachers and the wider school community and much of the detail is still being digested. Although there are increased freedoms and opportunities for schools, academies have to operate within a complex framework of rules, regulations, compliance and reporting requirements, at the same time as focusing on the day-to-day running of the school.

It has been reported that 2,075 out of 3,381 secondary schools are already operating as academies with only 2,440 out of 16,766 primary schools having already converted to academy status. Primary schools, in particular, have a huge job to do. The process of conversion is a daunting task and the ongoing management of a school as a business requires a major change in mind-set, which means schools must prepare early if they are to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Getting good quality advice from the outset is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition. Having already worked with a number of schools and multi-academy trusts, which have gone through this process, our starting point is always to establish a very clear picture of the school’s current financial position, systems and controls, and considering how these will be affected by conversion, before embarking on the process. Schools also need to look beyond the initial transition, considering how they plan to manage the ongoing administration of running the school.

For those about to embark on the journey of becoming an academy, it may be worth talking to other local academies about their experiences to highlight any potential pitfalls or opportunities. With careful planning and the right expertise in place, schools can ensure the conversion runs smoothly and that ongoing financial management is robust, allowing them to concentrate on their key priority of delivering quality education.

For more information about how HB&O can help schools with conversion and ongoing support, visit http://www.hboltd.co.uk/services/specialist-expertise/academy-schools or contact Mark Ashfield on 01926 422292 / mark.ashfield@hboltd.co.uk