Converting to Academy Status

Waltham Forest actively encourages and supports maintained schools to retain their maintained status.

Governing Boards who are considering whether to change to academy status are encouraged to contact the Director of Learning to request a representative to attend a Governing Body meeting to present an unbiased appraisal of all options available to them.

Converting to Academy status

  • Should a Governing Board decide to convert to academy status, the Local Authority has a duty to support them to do so.
  • The DfE outlines the process for a school looking to convert on their site.
  • In Waltham Forest, schools are requested to notify the Local Authority prior to submitting this Expression of Interest, to enable the Local Authority to provide advice and guidance throughout the process. This is not a statutory aspect of the process, and schools do not have to advise the LA at this point if they choose not to.


Applying to convert

  • Before the school can apply to become an academy the Governing Board has to meet and pass a resolution to convert. This must be formally recorded in the minutes of the Governors meeting.
  • If the school is applying to join a MAT, a consent letter is also required from the MAT confirming they are in agreement to this. Schools who buy into LBWF Governor Services will be provided with support to ensure the process is completed appropriately.
  • The DfE advises that a Governing Board should let the LA know about their plans to apply to become an academy at the point of their application being submitted.
  • Applications to convert are normally processed by the DfE 2 to 6 weeks after this is received. Once successful an academy order is granted and sent to the LA.


Conversion process

  • Once the Academy Order is approved and sent to the LA. The LA then has duties regarding supporting the conversion to complete.
  • In June 2016, Waltham Forest introduced a cost recovery charge of £6,000 to any school converting to academy status. The LA also reserves the right to include an additional charge for schools where additional complexities are highlighted (eg PFI agreements, Children Centre Capital, etc) where this is justified on the basis of the project management and additional legal charges involved. This charge will be used by the Local Authority to provide specialist project management support and any additional legal costs associated with the conversion process.


Consulting with stakeholders

  • The DfE recommends that Governing Bodies should let staff members, parents and pupils know that they are considering applying to become an academy, however the statutory consultation period does not need legally need to be completed the application and the academy order are approved. It is at this point that the DfE guidance states that schools must formally consult.
  • The DfE advises that they would have expected a school to have already discussed, and agreed that the option of converting to academy status is the preferred option for the school and its community in principle. If the school is proposing to join a MAT, there should be discussions held between the school and the proposed sponsor.
  • The proposed sponsor would then attend any consultation meetings organised by the school to outline the benefits of joining their MAT to the school community.
  • There is no specification on how long the consultation period should last, only that stakeholders must have had a reasonable opportunity to respond. This consultation process must be completed before the academy funding agreement is signed.
  • Please note: If the community is not supportive and the governing body decides not to proceed with the conversion, Governing Bodies can withdraw the application to convert at any time prior to the Funding Agreement being signed.


Signing the Funding Agreement

  • Unless the school is being forced to become an academy, the Governing Board is able to withdraw from the process at any point up until the signing of the Funding Agreement - even if the application has been approved and the Academy Order issued.
  • Once the funding agreement between the Trust and the Secretary of State is signed, the decision to convert is binding.
  • Once signed the only way that a school can ‘exit’ a MAT is through the approval, or direction, of the RSC.
Last update: Wednesday 1st of July 2020 09:06:24 AM