Can the Secretary of State or a local authority force a maintained school to become an academy?

The following post is copied and pasted directly from the lawyer David Wolfe’s blog ‘A Can Of Worms’. I have re-blogged it here because it is of direct relevance to the situation of forced academies in Birmingham

April 30, 2012

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The short answer is that neither the Secretary of State nor a local authority has direct power to force a maintained school to become an academy.

They are doing it in practice either by (a) replacing the school’s governing body with an Interim Executive Board comprising people he has chosen who then act on their behalf in ‘applying’ to become an academy; or (b) by pressuring the existing governing body into applying themselves (i.e. jumping before they are pushed).

If a maintained school is eligible for intervention then the local authority and the Secretary of State both have powers of intervention.

But neither can directly force a maintained school to become an academy.

In my experience, when governing bodies are approached (generally by private consultants employed by the Department rather than by civil servants) and told that the Secretary of State wants to turn their school into an academy, but they are not given any details about the legal processes involved. There is a strong sense of “jump or you’ll be pushed” which encourages many to jump.

Where they don’t jump, the local authority or Secretary of State imposes an Interim Executive Board which then acts on their behalf in going through the motions of a consultation etc with a view to initiating the academy conversion process as if they were a normal governing body (except that, instead of the process being initiated by a governing body which comprises parents, staff, community governors, etc, it is then initiated by a body of people put in place to bring about the forced change to being an academy).

Other important posts by David Wolfe relating to forced academies include;

What can a local authority do if a maintained school is ‘eligible for intervention’?

IEBs and academy conversion

What can the Secretary of State do if a school is ‘eligible for intervention’?

When is a maintained school ‘eligible for intervention’?

If you post a question on David Wolfe’s blog he will usually answer it, sometimes with a new blogpost if it is on a subject he has not previously covered.

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2 thoughts on “Can the Secretary of State or a local authority force a maintained school to become an academy?

  1. Reblogged this on Gogwit's Blog and commented:
    Eye-opening and informative. So if the school governors can’t be bluffed or brow-beaten, replace the governing body with placemen.
    Surely such practices belong to bygone ages?

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