South west law firm Coodes Solicitors is launching a specialist service for schools working to become academies following the introduction of new legislation.
Both primary and secondary schools can opt for academy status under the Academies Act and gain greater autonomy.
So far just a handful of schools in Cornwall and Devon have applied for the status, with three schools in the region becoming academies in last September.
But experts at Coodes believe more and more schools will opt for the status in the future.
Partner Peter Lamble said: “There are many benefits for a school achieving academy status, particularly in gaining greater autonomy to improve quality of education.
“However there are a number of legal issues which need to be dealt with before, during and after the conversion process.”
Coodes Solicitors has drawn together a team of legal experts to support schools through the process.
Becoming an academy involves establishing an academy trust – a charitable company limited by guarantee.
The academy trust would then be required to enter into a funding agreement with the Department for Education. Land, assets and staff can then be transferred from the local authority to the newly constituted academy trust.
Lamble added: “We are very excited about the opportunities this legislation brings to schools, particularly those that have been rated Outstanding.
“It is critical that the school gets the best independent legal advice, because the terms of the agreements that are put in place need to balance the needs and requirements of the school against the different interests of the other parties including the local authority and central government.
“We want to support schools every step of the way. Academies will often be growing institutions and we will be offering ongoing guidance in a wide range of issues, through the conversion process and for the exciting but challenging times beyond.”