The Government continues to promote its academy agenda, encouraging and compelling schools to become academies as part of multi-academy trusts (MATs). This guidance sets out the legal rights and arguments that can be made to resist academisation.
Where a school is ‘eligible for intervention’, the Regional Schools Commissioner, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, can issue an order to close a school and re-open it as a sponsored academy within a MAT.
An Inadequate Ofsted judgement is the only route to forced academisation of a school. Other performance measures and metrics cannot be used as the basis for an academy order.
A school that has received an Ofsted inadequate judgement will be told it has no choice over its sponsor and there is no obligation to consult over the transfer. The only requirement is for the chosen sponsor to communicate to parents its plans to ‘improve the school’.
This is when governors of a school apply for academy status. Schools which convert in this way must become academies within MATs – either new ones or existing chains – as the Government no longer allows schools to become stand-alone academies.
The process of converting a school to academy status in the case of voluntary converters can be surprisingly quick. Many governing bodies are converting because they are being put under pressure by the Regional Schools Commissioner or a diocesan board or because they feel they must ‘jump before they are pushed’.