All maintained special schools that are performing well. Also, maintained special schools working in partnership with schools that are performing well.
Each application received will be considered on its merits. The criteria that will be taken into account when considering an application to convert will include, for example:
Special schools interested in converting to academies should complete the online registration form. Further details of the conversion process can be found on this site.
The conversion process has been made as simple as possible for all schools. The key steps the school must take are all explained in the Department’s conversion guide and may differ according to the type of school and who owns the buildings and land.
As a minimum, all schools converting must
Schools can seek further assistance from their named contact in the Department.
The conversion process has been made as simple as possible for all schools, with only legal requirements/statutory measures needing to be undertaken through the conversion process. We therefore intend this to be a light-touch process with minimal support required. However, if you need help, please do let your named contact know so we can see if any further assistance or guidance can be given. Once open, responsibility for the academy will pass to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) where, again, each academy will have a named contact.
Special schools converting to academy status are not required to have a sponsor, although they are free to work with any external organisation.
Yes. All schools are required to carry out a consultation but it is up to them to decide whom and how to consult. There is no specified length of time for the consultation and schools have flexibility in how it is conducted. None of the schools which have already converted has had any problems with the process of consultation, which is very straightforward. Examples are available in the conversion guide.
As set out in the Department’s consultation on school funding, published in July 2011, the Department is considering reforming arrangements for funding for pupils with high needs. The July consultation set out a range of proposals for reform, and the Department is considering the responses to these proposals. Further details of future funding arrangements for pupils with high needs, including those placed in special academies, will be provided in due course.
Prior to the introduction of a reformed approach to funding for high needs pupils, a set of interim funding arrangements will remain in place for the period of the financial year 2012-13. Details of these interim funding arrangements are set out below.
The principle of academy funding is that academies should receive the same level of funding as they would receive from the local authority as a maintained school. In addition, academies receive funding to cover the costs of the additional responsibilities they acquire as independent schools, for providing services that are no longer provided for them, by the local authority (LA). We are clear that conversion to academy status should not bring about a financial advantage or disadvantage to a school. Academies will however, have greater freedom over how they use their budgets, alongside other freedoms they enjoy.
For maintained special schools converting to academy status during the period covered by the financial year 2012-13, the funding they receive for this period will comprise two components.
Second, the special academy will receive the local authority central spend equivalent grant (LACSEG), in order to cover the costs of services that previously, would have been provided by the LA. LACSEG for special academies will be calculated in such a way to ensure that special academies receive funding that reflects fairly the responsibilities they acquire as publicly-funded independent schools, and the services that previously would have been provided by the LA. LACSEG calculators for special academies can be found in the academies funding section of this website.
Many special schools admit pupils from a number of different local authorities (LAs). Currently, maintained special schools receive budgets from the maintaining LA, and where another LA places a child at the school the maintaining LA recoups funding in arrears to cover the costs of a place at the special school from the placing LA. This process is set out in the Education (Recoupment) (England) Regulations.
For special schools that convert to academy status during 2012-13, as part of the interim funding arrangements covering this period, the current process will continue to operate. This will mean that the LA that previously maintained the school will be responsible for recouping funding for places in the special academy from other LAs which placed children at the academy.
The Government is considering introducing changes to the way in which pupils with high needs are funded. Following the consultation on school funding published in July 2011, the Department will provide further details about changes to high needs pupils funding shortly. As part of this, we will also provide details about how special academies will be funded from the point at which the reforms are introduced. In the meantime, the existing interim funding arrangements set out above will remain in place for special academy funding during the period covered by the financial year 2012-13.
Details and FAQs on the arrangements for academy capital funding are set out in the following link:
All academies established by the Secretary of State enter into a contract – the funding agreement – with a charitable company, which is often referred to as the academy trust. The funding agreement provides the framework within which the academy must operate.
Maintained special schools wishing to convert to academy status will not be able to change their characteristics, including the number of places for which they are funded and the types of special educational needs they provide for, as part of the conversion process. The number of pupil places for which the academy will be funded will be based on the number of places for which the special school is funded currently. Likewise, the types of special educational needs the special academy will provide for will be based on the types of needs provided for currently by the special school.
There will be scope to change the characteristics of the special academy in the future, so as to ensure that provision for children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities remains flexible and responsive to local need and parent choice. In such instances, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) would consider the case for the change(s), with the final decision resting with the Secretary of State.
Your school will be free to discuss its plans with any local partners, including the LA. The Academies Act 2010 has removed the need for the LA to approve your plans. All that will be required is a resolution passed by the governing body. Once the Secretary of State has confirmed that your school will become an academy, the Secretary of State will direct the local authority to cease to maintain it.
Academies have freedom from LA control, which means that they have autonomy over the decisions they make and the education they deliver to their pupils. They also have the freedom to change the length of terms and school days, set their own pay and conditions for staff, and freedoms around the delivery of the curriculum. There is a range of services that were previously provided by the LA that academies will now need to provide.
Academies are independent schools and are not maintained by a LA. Being at the centre of your community, you will want to work with other schools and local partners. Special academies will wish to maintain close and collaborative relationships with LAs, who are in effect commissioning their services on behalf of the children and young people for whom those LAs hold a statutory responsibility. Conversion to academy status provides an opportunity to redefine the terms of the relationship between special schools and LAs, with the special academy being more autonomous whilst operating in a culture of collaboration with LAs.
Admission to a special academy will be by way of a statement of special educational needs.
Parents may make representations for a placement at a special academy.
The local authority (LA) responsible for making the statement retains responsibility for deciding whether to name the special academy in the statement, based on the individual needs of the child and any representations made by parents. A LA is required to consult with the special academy before naming it in a child's statement. Once the special academy is named in a child's statement, the academy is under a statutory duty to admit the child.
LAs will retain responsibility for pupils with statements in academies on the same basis as for statemented pupils in maintained schools. They must
Special schools which convert to academy status are expected to work with another school to bring about an improvement in standards. Plans should include how they plan to use their expertise to improve the quality of provision for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities.
Hospital schools that are designated as maintained special schools and which are performing well are eligible to apply to convert to academy status. Any hospital school that meets these criteria and is interested in academy status should follow the same process as other special schools and register an interest using the online registration form. Your school’s named contact in the Department will be able to discuss with you some of the differences in the conversion policy and process for hospital schools, for example those relating to admissions and funding.