Academy sponsors play an incredibly valuable role in school improvement and add capacity across the sector. Coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, each sponsor is unique in its vision and ethos and what it brings to its schools. Expectations of sponsors however are high, both from the public and from central government and Ministers are increasingly holding sponsors to account on their impact and how they operate within the DfE's framework.
Extensive experience of the academy conversion process is obviously an important part of our experience as a whole and our conversion team of 30 lawyers is adept at delivering conversion projects (including the conversion of schools into an academy trust) on time and at best value.
However, we are also able to deliver expert advice on the wider range of issues that relate to academy trusts and their sponsors (including e.g. collaborative working, changing governance structures, the organisational response to rapid growth and the challenges faced by organisations running a number of different operations in many locations etc.).
In particular, we have experience in advising sponsors such as universities, FE colleges, independent schools and other education providers, whose involvement in the academies programme forms part of a wider portfolio of other activities. Advice of this kind would typically cover issues such as:
A sponsor's ability to engage in the academies programme (ie. by reference to its powers and objects)
The relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored academy trust, particularly around issues such as managing risk (including risk to reputation), control, governance, exit and limitations on liability
The accounting implications for a sponsor and its group in terms of the consolidation of the academy trust's accounts (often working with the sponsor's auditors to help identify the correct accounting treatment)
The procurement of services by the academy trust from the sponsor and members of its group (taking into account the 'at cost' requirement under the DfE's model tripartite agreement and EU procurement requirements)
Technically impressive and good at providing practical advice in plain English.