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BCKR Event: Academy Schools Trusts

BCKR Event: Academy Schools Trusts

John Acland-Hood of the The Academy Schools Trusts addressed members this week with a positive message for lawyers wanting to pursue Trustee roles in education.

Here is a summary of what he had to say;

The background:

Academies were started in 2003 by the labour government as a way of turning around underperforming ‘sink’ schools. Schools were removed from local authority control and sponsored by local business. Schools were given control and freedom over their own budgets and curriculum.

This initiative was continued under the current Conservative government with academy status also being given to good, high achieving schools who wanted to gain independence from their local authorities (converted schools).

So having started out with 200 under achieving secondary schools there are now approximately 4,150 academies.1000 schools sponsor under achieving schools (sponsored academies have been shown to out-perform non-academy schools), 3000 are converted high achieving schools with 40% of those being part of a multi academy.

Each academy has a board of trustees which can be overseeing anything from a single school with a moderate budget to a group of 50 or more schools with a budget of £100 million+

How it works at management level:

When the academy is set up the government has no say in who the trustees are. It is up to the board to recruit its own members. Part of the Network’s role is to advise trusts on what the board should look like and they are often asked for candidate suggestions.

The most popular model for a successful academy is an already successful academy taking over a non-successful school. This can then grow into a group of academies. Some of these academies have grown into multi-school academies with as many as 15 schools in one group. So head teachers need many new skills – they need to become chief executives and the board of directors needs to have the skill set to cope with what is often a rapidly growing business.

Success requires the right head teacher and good performance management by the board. If the board is weak then sometimes the New Schools Network has to step in.

How can lawyers help?

Lawyers, many of whom have been part of the rapid growth of law firms over the last 20 years, are exceptionally well placed to help these fast growing businesses. Converting from a local authority led school to a business is not an easy process and the demand for new trustees is high.

New Schools Network is always on the lookout for senior people to introduce to academy boards. They would welcome CVs from BCKR members and be willing to discuss where and how much time you are willing to commit and to help connect members with trustee opportunities that fit your requirements.