Chelmsford Diocesan
Board of Education

Academy Application Process

Church school Academies: Introduction

The Academies scene is rapidly evolving. You will find here documents on legal process and administrative information. But even more crucial as your school embarks on a journey to becoming an Academy are:

  • vision - in the medium and long term as well as for the immediate future.
  • understanding up to date guidance and policy  - that of the Diocese, the Church of England; the DfE and Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC)
  • taking account of best practice - which is of course constantly evolving in the light of the experiences of others across the country.

The Diocese of Chelmsford has published Guidance. It explores the options for church schools in this diocese. You should begin your exploration by reading this document.

The guidance also refers to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Church of England and the DfE. That MOU provides the working framework within which applications from church schools to become academies will be considered by the RSC, who acts as decision-maker on behalf of the DfE.

The Diocese wishes there to be a good academy home for any church school that wishes to convert.

In most cases this is likely to be the Diocese’s own Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), the Vine Schools Trust. Joining the Vine will mean not simply joining a large MAT, but with a smaller grouping of more local church schools - a hub – within the Trust.

In some cases it could mean joining with an existing church school academy and forming or expanding a school led MAT together.

It could even mean starting an entirely new church school-led MAT. However, bear in mind the importance of establishing something that will have a longer term viability. The RSC for the East of England and North-East London, Dr Tim Coulson,  has recently tweeted Seven Steps to setting up your own MAT.

Please read the Guidance carefully before considering establishing a mixed-MAT (i.e. one that includes both church and non-church schools). It will be essential there are sufficient church-appointed Directors (51% if involving a VA school; 25% if only VC schools). Think long-term.

Please, contact your School’s Diocesan Adviser or the diocesan Schools Team Office as early in the process as possible, and certainly before any provisional decisions are taken. The Team will help you as you move forward.

The Following information has been taken from the Government's Guidance notes for schools thinking about converting to an academy. There are several modifications to clarify the situation for Church Schools and the Diocese of Chelmsford in particular.

1. Before you apply

How to prepare for your school's application to convert to an academy.

2. Apply to convert

Links to the academy conversion application forms, and information about notifying your local authority.

3. Set up or join an academy trust

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

4. Transfer responsibilities to the academy trust

What responsibilities you should transfer to your academy trust as part of your school's conversion to academy status.

5. Prepare to open as an academy

What final preparations you should complete before your school can open as an academy.

6. Open as an academy

What actions you should take in the first few months after your school opens as an academy.

It should be noted that there are several steps in the process that will require the Diocese to be involved and there will be a charge for supporting the process.