School competitions (under section 7 of EIA 2006)
16. If there is no suitable academy/Free School proposal, a statutory competition can be held with the consent of the Secretary of State (section 7(1)). This will not require a separate application for consent, since the Secretary of State will indicate to the local authority that a competition can be held, if he is satisfied that there is no suitable academy/Free School proposal.
17. Where consent to hold a competition is given, the local authority must follow the statutory process set out in Schedule 2 to the EIA 2006 (as amended by EA 2011) and the Establishment and Discontinuance Regulations.
18. Significant changes made by EA 2011 are:
The removal of section 8 EIA 2006, which means that local authorities can no longer submit their own community or foundation school proposals in a competition.
The new section 7A EIA 2006, which means that at any time before the date specified for the return of proposals, the Secretary of State may direct a local authority to withdraw a competition notice; or, a local authority may withdraw a competition notice with the Secretary of State’s consent. This allows a competition to be ended where circumstances have changed e.g. where the new school is no longer needed or an alternative option is found, such as the enlargement of one or more existing schools instead.
19. Academy/Free School proposals and proposals for foundation (by proposers other than a local authority), voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools, can be submitted into the competition by the deadline specified in the first notice.
Competition – decision making
20. The arrangements for deciding a competition have also changed. Since local authorities cannot enter their own school proposals, the Schools Adjudicator will no longer have a role in deciding competitions (unless the local authority is involved in the foundation of a proposed foundation school – paragraph 10 of Schedule 2 EIA 2006).
21. Important changes arising from EA 2011 are:
Where an academy/Free School proposal is entered into a competition by the specified deadline, the Secretary of State must consider these proposals first to decide whether he is willing, in principle, to enter into a Funding Agreement with the academy/Free School proposer (paragraph 7A of Schedule 2 EIA 2006).
If an academy/Free School proposal is deemed suitable, the competition ends and the proposer works with the Department and local authority to progress its proposal.
If an academy/Free School proposal is not considered suitable, or no academy/Free School proposal is received, the competition continues and it is for the local authority to decide which maintained school proposal wins (paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 EIA 2006, subject to the local authority’s involvement in any foundation school’s foundation); there is no right of appeal.
Where a competition does not identify a suitable academy/Free School or maintained school, the local authority may publish its own community or foundation school proposal under amended section 11 of EIA 2006; the Schools Adjudicator will be the decision maker in such cases.