Academies recently found their way into the news, courtesy of Prime Minister David Cameron. He reiterated his vision for education in comments to the media marking the first 100 days of a majority Conservative government since 1997.
Political views on academy schools are quite mixed across the board, but having a broader understanding what an academy trust is, and how it relates to academy schools is the first step to determine if it is the right path for your organisation.
An academy is a centrally funded independent state school run by an Academy Trust. The Academies Act 2010 received Royal Assent on 27 July 2010. Since then, all maintained schools have been able to apply to become an academy, but it isn’t compulsory. There are many perceived advantages to conversion to an academy including:
Ability to set own pay and terms and conditions for staff
Freedom from the national curriculum subject to certain limits
Freedom to decide the length of the school day
What is an Academy Trust
It is a charitable company limited by guarantee. It is a separate legal entity and can enter into contracts and hold assets in its own name as a result.
Structure of an Academy Trust
The Academy Trust has members and directors. In line with the way that schools operate, the directors are referred to as governors in the constitutional documents. Distinctions are made between the type of academy trust set up for a single school and the type set up for a federation of schools. There are slight differences between the two, but broadly speaking the structure is very similar. The governors are responsible for the management of the Academy Trust including its overall direction and overseeing the day-to-day running of the school(s).
However, certain key decisions are by law reserved to the members of the Academy Trust. Such decisions include, for example, changes to its name and any changes to its objects or other provisions of its articles of association and are made by the members in the formal general meeting.
Advantages of this type of organisational structure
Under the form provided by the Department for Education (DfE), each member’s liability for the debts of the Academy Trust is limited to a figure not exceeding £10 should the company be wound up. The members will not be required to contribute any further sum on the winding up of the company.
What of the liability of the governors? In brief, provided that they have:
always acted honestly, reasonably and in good faith;
in accordance with their duties under company law; and
in accordance with the obligations placed upon them as charitable trustees under charity law,
...They will not be subject to personal liability in their actions as a governor.
Articles of association
The articles of association is the governing document for the Academy Trust. It sets out the following:
The rules for the running and regulation of the trust
Eligibility criteria for members and governors
Procedure for appointing and removing governors and members
Voting rights for members
Powers for governors
For more information on forming an Academy Trust and how we can assist with the administration of the Academy as a company, contact our UK Company Formations Team at 0117 918 1391 or here for email.