Devon Association of GovernanceDevon Association of Governance

Professional Services

Things to think about when converting to academy status

DAG does not believe it has a role in recommending which particular company of solicitors or accountants a governing board should engage, but does believe that where companies have already shown that they are supportive to local schools and schools organisations, then their names could be put forward.

The following companies have all exhibited at the Devon Association of Primary Heads Conference and have all confirmed that they are prepared to attend a meeting of any governing board considering conversion to provide initial advice free of charge.

They are but a few of the many companies willing to provide this service, so please speak to schools that have already been through this process and learn from their experience. Please note that the companies are listed in alphabetical order.

Ashfords Solicitors

They say…

“Our Specialist Education Team advises schools, academies, colleges and groups across a range of education matters. The Team has advised on matters such as academy conversion (including consultation, governance, property, and employment issues); partnerships and collaborations; safeguarding and child protection; behaviour, discipline and exclusions; e-safety; investigation and management of complaints; SEN, disability and reasonable adjustments; allegations of discrimination by/against pupils, educational negligence claims, and preparation for inspection.

“The Team has significant practical experience of working alongside Heads, Governors and Trustees, and understands the importance of managing not only legal, but also commercial and reputational risks. The Team regularly delivers training (including INSET) to education professionals, and has experience of sitting on appeal panels relating to both pupil and staff issues.

“In addition, our education employment specialists have considerable experience of advising on staffing issues, including restructuring, outsourcing and TUPE, equality and discrimination, handling allegations against staff; bullying and harassment, as well as successfully defending Employment Tribunal claims.”

Contact: Helen Tucker, Partner, Head of Education

Telephone: 0117 321 8078,  email  Helen Tucker

Bishop Fleming Chartered Accountants

They say…

“There’s a good reason why Bishop Fleming has been appointed by over 100 Academy Schools and Colleges in the region – our clients know that they are at the centre of everything we do and that it is our responsibility to ensure they receive a worry-free transition to Academy status and beyond.

“Our genuine interest in the Not-For-Profit Sector means we have the largest team of ICAEW professionals with a Diploma in Charity Accounting in the region; you can therefore be safe in the knowledge that we have the specialist sector experience, expertise and capacity to ensure you receive the best quality of service and advice – be it conversion/ongoing support, audit & accounts, tax, VAT, payroll, TPA, Responsible Officer Support or accounting software, and the first-class testimonials from our clients speak for themselves”.

Contact: Pam Tuckett, Partner

Telephone: 01392 448800,  email Pam Tuckett

Brethertons Solicitors

They say…

”In becoming an Academy school, Brethertons can help you every step of the way. We offer a bespoke specialist team comprised of experienced lawyers who can guide your school management board through the initial phases of registering and feasibility, to changing to trust status and academy implementation. Brethertons LLP’s Academy Team is committed to provide the full spectrum of legal support and advice in helping your school to make the change.”

Contact: Brian Auld, Partner

Telephone: 01295 270999,  email Brian Auld

Foot Anstey LLP

 They say…

Foot Anstey LLP assisted four of the first ‘new-style’ converters to academy status in September 2010 and have since assisted over 70 primary and secondary schools with their conversions, including those converting independently, as academy chains or seeking to join existing academy chains.  Each of our schools is allocated a project lead and is assisted by a team of named legal advisors to assist with each aspect of the conversion.

“In this way, our schools get the best of both worlds: expert, specialist legal advice and services with the all-important personal touch.  In collaboration with our academy converters, we have also developed a number of post-conversion legal support packages specifically designed for the needs of academies”.

Contact: Julia Green, Partner and Head of Education

Telephone: 01752 675504,  email Julia Green

Francis Clark

They say…

Francis Clark is the largest independent firm of business advisers and chartered accountants in the South West. We are larger than the regional offices of the “Big 4” and considerably larger than any other independent firm operating in the South West.

“Our expertise and experience in education sector and not for profit clients is, we believe, second to none in the region. We have advised many of the schools and colleges who have already converted to Academy status in the South West and continue to talk to many more who are considering the change in the coming months.”

Contact: Chris Bush

Telephone: 01392 667000,  email Chris Bush


They say…

KPMG has a breadth of expertise in schools, colleges and other education institutions. As one of the leading suppliers of advisory and audit services to the Education sector, we are in a unique position to be able to provide the wider support to Academies that makes a difference in the face of the many challenges facing both schools going through the conversion process and established Academies. We can help you put the necessary systems and processes in place and the help you keep them up to date.”

Contact: Mike Rowley, Partner

Telephone: 07976 424513,  email Mike Rowley


They say…

“At Michelmores, we have a dedicated team of experts who have worked with Schools and Councils on conversions in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire. We are also working with both the Exeter Diocese and the Truro Diocese to help Church Schools through the conversion process.

“As well as advising you through the conversion process, Michelmores are also well placed to provide post conversion support. With vast experience in the education sector Michelmores’ Academies and Schools team is comprised of lawyers from various practice areas with specific expertise in the issues affecting academies.”

Contact: Samantha Billingham, Partner and Head of Academies and Schools

Telephone: 01392 687651,  email Samantha Billingham

NPS South West

They say…

NPS South West has unrivalled experience in providing a range of property services to Devon schools and is equally keen to work with schools outside the maintained sector, whether already established, or at the early stages of planning and development. Our expertise includes working on a variety of projects from refurbishments, including listed buildings, to conversions and brand new facilities.

“Our comprehensive range of specialist services is designed to minimise the risk to you and other building users, whilst maximising budgets. Our knowledge of the Academies sector is extensive and includes working as technical consultants to the Department for Education’s Academies programme and successfully assisting academies in securing YPLA funding. This unique insight into the ethos of individual sponsors and promoters means our teams can truly add value.”

Contact: Janet Russell, Business Development Manager

Telephone: 01392 351000, fax: 01392 351111, mob: 07595 552616, email: Janet Russell

NPS South West Ltd, Venture House, One Capital Court, Sowton Industrial Estate, Exeter  EX2 7FW

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