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Chelmsford Diocesan
Board of Education

3. Set up or join an academy trust

What actions to take following approval of your academy conversion application.

Academy order

It will take somewhere between 2 and 6 weeks for the DfE to assess your application and grant your academy order, if you have been successful.

Your project lead will get in touch if they need to check anything in your application.

Support grant

As soon as the academy order has been granted, you will be able to apply for a £25,000 support grant for you to spend on the conversion process which you should receive within 14 working days of your application.

Funding allocation letter

Once your academy order has been issued the Education Funding Agency (EFA) will send you your funding allocation pack. This pack will include your indicative funding allocation letter, which confirms how much funding your academy is likely to get after conversion.

If you have any queries about your funding allocation, contact EFA:academy.questions@education.gsi.gov.uk.

Prepare to set up your academy trust

Once you have your academy order and received your support grant, you can start the process of setting up your academy trust.

Appoint a solicitor

As a Church School you must appoint a solicitor to ensure that all the land and trust related issues are correctly handled. It is important to ensure they understand Education Law, Church Law and Charity Law. You will be responsible for the legal fees of both the Diocese and the Trustees so it makes sense to save money by using the same firm for all the work. The Diocese has an approved list and is in the process of negotiating a preferential rate.

Statutory consultation

Your governing body must consult formally about your school’s plans to become an academy with anyone who has an interest in your school. This will include staff members and parents, but you should also involve pupils and the wider local community.

You must complete the formal consultation process before you sign your academy funding agreement, so start the consultation as soon as possible to allow time for everyone with an interest to respond.

Apply to open your academy’s bank account

We strongly recommend that you start the process of opening a bank account for your academy at this stage.

You will not be able to finalise your bank account application until you have finished setting up your academy trust and have registered your academy as a limited company. However, because this can take time, we advise that you start the process now.

Complete and return the land questionnaire

You should first ask your solicitor or legal adviser to complete the land and title checks.

You can then instruct your solicitor or legal adviser to complete and return the academy land questionnaire to your project lead. Your project lead will let you know what the deadline for submitting your land questionnaire is.

Before completing the questionnaire, we suggest that your solicitor or legal adviser reads the academy land transfer advice document. This document will help you and your project lead identify any potential problems with the ownership or transfer of the land.

If you use the same solicitor as the Diocese they are very experienced and will lead you through the process.

Get in touch with your project lead if you need advice.

The deadline by which you need to complete and submit the land questionnaire is in the ‘Academy conversion: important dates’ document.

Complete and submit your draft memorandum and articles of association

If you are establishing a new academy trust, instruct your solicitor or legal adviser to complete and return the model memorandum and articles of association for church schools. The diocese will have to approve the document before it can be finalised so please send a copy to blester@chelmsford.anglican.org.

The DfE do not expect you to make any changes to the model documents except in exceptional circumstances. If your solicitor or legal adviser believes that your school should amend the model documents, please make sure they outline their suggested amendments and the reasons for them in the schedule of changes.

If you have used the schedule of changes, submit it to your project lead along with your model memorandum and articles of association.

Your project lead will check the draft documents and consider any changes you have requested. They may reject changes and ask you to revert to the wording of the model document.

Your project lead will clear your final memorandum and articles of association.

The Diocesan Solicitors are familiar with this process and where they have made changes they have usually been agreed previously.

The deadline by which you need to complete and submit your draft memorandum and articles of association is in the ‘Academy conversion: important dates’ document.

Complete and submit your draft funding agreement

Instruct your solicitor or legal adviser to produce a draft funding agreement.

Church of England and Catholic schools should use one of the model funding agreements for church schools. The diocese will have to approve the document before it can be finalised so please send a copy to blester@chelmsford.anglican.org.

The DfE do not expect you to vary from the model agreements, except in exceptional circumstances. If your solicitor or legal adviser believes that your school should amend the model documents, make sure they outline their suggested changes and the reasons for them in the schedule of changes.

If you have used the schedule of changes, submit it to your project lead along with your draft funding agreement.

The Diocesan Solicitors are familiar with this process and where they have made changes they have usually been agreed previously.

Your project lead will check the draft funding agreement and consider any changes you have requested. They may reject changes and ask you to revert to the wording of the model document.

Your project lead will clear your final funding agreement.

The deadline by which you need to complete and submit your draft funding agreement is in the ‘Academy conversion: important dates’ document.

Set up the academy trust (if you are establishing a new academy trust)

Register with Companies House

Once your project lead has confirmed that DfE has approved a final version of your memorandum and articles of association, you should register your academy trust with Companies House.

Appoint your academy directors

You should now appoint the academy’s directors. The memorandum and articles of association that DfE cleared will say:

how many people will make up the academy trust

who will be in charge of appointing your academy directors and how

The Diocese will be involved in appointing the directors.

Get in touch with your project lead if you need advice.

Appoint your academy’s local governing body (for all schools in a multi-academy trust)

If you’re converting as part of a multi-academy trust, your board of directors should now appoint the members of the governing bodies of each academy in your multi-academy trust. These are called local governing bodies.

The directors’ choice of governors must comply with the rules around the composition of academy governing bodies set out in section 2 of the ‘Governors’ handbook’.

Get in touch with your project lead if you need advice.


Academy Application Process 

4. Transfer responsibilities to the academy trust