Cumbrian lawyers supporting new generation of academies
As a new generation of academies opens in Cumbria next week, one thing they have in common is the team of lawyers advising them through the conversion process.
Burnetts has advised seven of the new academies which were created in Cumbria on 1st September 2015, to add to four others which completed their conversions earlier in the year.
The law firm has been building up its academy expertise since the introduction of the Academies Act 2010, and long before David Cameron’s August announcement that “every school in England should become an Academy”.
Burnetts’ lawyers advised Seaton Academy, the first of the “ new style “ academies to open in Cumbria in September 2010 , following the introduction of the Academies Act , and have gone on to support more than 30 schools through the conversion process since then. The most recent projects include the creation of Workington Academy in West Cumbria, and the conversions of George Hastwell School in the south of the County and Yewdale Primary School in Carlisle.
Natalie Ruane, Partner and Head of Schools & Academies at Burnetts said, “Our role is to guide headteachers and governors through the conversion process - advising on the initial consultations, setting up the Academy company and supporting funding agreements, transferring land and property to the new company, and meeting with staff and trade unions to discuss and resolve the employment aspects of the conversion, making sure all the required deadlines are met. We’ve done lots of conversions over the past five years so there’s very little that we haven’t seen - that’s very reassuring for school management teams.”
In recognition of its expertise in the sector, Burnetts has been invited by the Department for Education to take part in a national consultation exercise, which will consider and report on how the academy conversion process can be stream-lined and improved.
John Noctor, the Head of Corporate law at Burnetts, has five years’ experience of working on academy conversions, having led the first conversion of Seaton Academy on behalf of the firm. He said, “It is a huge compliment to be invited to take part in the Government’s consultation programme. We work very closely with the DfE’s Academies Team in Sheffield, and they have come to trust our views and advice. We will try and put that to good use in the consultation, which will hopefully smooth the path of those schools which are yet to convert.”
Post-conversion, Burnetts has continued to provide support to academies in areas such as procurement, property and contracting and has developed a fixed-fee HR Support Service especially for the sector.All News