Being equipped to make informed decisions about your academy means having a dedicated team of experts by your side to work closely with senior management and governors. Whether you just want more information about your legal obligations, or you need start to finish project management support, we are here to help.

Academy conversions 

Whether you are converting as stand alone academies or you are converting together in an academy group, we can provide guidance to your school on the legal steps involved in the conversion process. This will cover the following areas:

  • Advice on consultation
  • Establishing the academy trust (including drafting the memorandum and articles of association)
  • Agreeing the Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State
  • Negotiating the Commercial Transfer Agreement with the local authority to transfer staff and assets to the academy and
  • Agreeing the land documentation (usually a transfer of the freehold title, a grant of a lease or a Supplemental Agreement depending on the former category of the school)
  • In order to ensure that the milestone dates during the conversion process are met, we will liaise directly with the key parties involved, including your contact at the DfE, the local authority and where relevant the local Diocese.

You do not have to be committed to the conversion process to speak to us! A member of our academy conversion team will be happy to attend your school, without charge, and meet the Head Teacher, Business Manager, Finance Officer and/or Governor(s) to discuss the various steps involved and answer any questions you may have, to allow you to make a more informed decision on how to proceed.

Academy groups

If you are considering converting to academy status as part of a group or if you are an existing academy planning on expanding, we can advise you on the options available, including establishing a Multi Academy Trust, an Umbrella Trust or a Collaborative Partnership.

  • Multi Academy Trust

In a Multi Academy Trust a single academy trust will be established for all the schools in your group. This provides the strongest form of governance and is the DfE’s preferred model if there are schools that are not performing well. A Multi Academy Trust allows the Board of Directors to employ an Executive Principal and allows for staff to move easily between the schools. Services will often be provided centrally by the Multi Academy Trust. As this model involves a loss of a certain degree of autonomy, it is important that you are confident that all the schools in your group share the same ethos and values.

  • Umbrella Trust

If you are interested in establishing an Umbrella Trust this will involve setting up an individual academy trust for each school and an overarching Umbrella Trust. This is a useful model for a group of schools that are not situated closely together and/or are in different categories. An Umbrella Trust allows schools to retain their own autonomy but also to formalise collaboration in areas such as finances and school improvement.

  • Collaborative Partnership

In a Collaborative Partnership individual academy trusts are established for each school in the group. It allows for the highest degree of autonomy as there are no shared governance arrangements. Schools may collaborate through a Collaborative Partnership Agreement on a wide range of matters including joint purchasing and sharing training and best practice.

Becoming an academy sponsor

Do you need more information about the process of becoming a sponsor? We have worked with various individuals, businesses, charities and existing academies and we can advise on:

  • Applying to the Office of the Schools Commissioner
  • Securing funding from the Sponsor Capacity Fund
  • Role of the Regional Commissioner
  • Establishing the Sponsor vehicle
  • Establishing a Multi Academy Trust
  • Converting each school to academy status
  • Preparation of central staff handbook and school policies

How we’ve helped our clients

“The Paris Smith team carefully guided us through the legal aspects of the conversion process ensuring our interests were protected. The team kept us up to date, explained “legalese” clearly and provided an efficient, tailor-made service. I highly recommend Paris Smith. ”

Jeannie Gibbons, Headteacher – Ludlow Infant Academy

“Paris Smith always provide us with excellent service, we use them for their employment law expertise and they have guided us through some complex situations with various employee issues as well as some major restructures. ”

HR Manager

Formaplex Ltd

Introducing your key contact

Nick Vaughan
Senior Partner – Property Finance & Head of Charities & Education



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