A primary school in North Devon has converted to an academy in just four weeks with the help of Cornish law firm Coodes Solicitors.
Bradworthy Primary School, which has 140 pupils and eight members of staff, is thought to be one of the most poorly funded schools in the Devon Local Education Authority.
It can now enjoy greater autonomy over how it educates pupils whilst remaining state funded.
Academy status was introduced under new legislation by Government last year, and so far just a handful of schools in Cornwall and Devon have opted to convert.
Headteacher Richard Stephenson said: “We have long worked to develop our own curriculum which best serves the needs of local children by putting a big emphasis on things like sport and the creative arts in addition to achieving very good academic standards over a number of years.
“The freedoms that academy status provide will cement this work and allow us to develop even further.
“In addition to this there are clear financial benefits, both in the funding levels that we receive and in the way we will be able to allocate and prioritise our budget.”
There are then a number of legal issues within the process of converting to an academy that require support from a solicitor.
The school started by carrying out consultation with all interested parties to help with the decision-making of converting.
An academy trust should then be set up – a charitable company limited by guarantee.
All assets, including land, employees and contracts, are then transferred to the new company.
Once the academy is registered with relevant bodies including examining boards, the school can reopen.
Commercial partner Peter Lamble, based at Coodes’ Truro office, said: “Bradworthy is one of our first clients to complete the process of becoming an academy. It proves that it needn’t be a laborious process if you have the right support.
“Schools can quickly reap the benefits of working independently in the interests of delivering outstanding quality education.”
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