Academies and property issues
Academies and property issues

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Academies and property issues
  • Preliminary investigation
  • Land transfer process
  • Power of secretary of state to make directions
  • Church schools
  • Third party rights and interests

A school in the maintained school sector can convert to independent academy status under the Academies Act 2010. Conversion arises once a conversion order is made by the Secretary of State for Education.

For conversion to be achieved, the site of the school must be transferred from the existing owner to the Academy Trust, which is the ‘qualifying proprietor’ of the Academy.

Preliminary investigation

In the early stages, as much information as possible should be gathered about the school site. This is necessary because:

  1. the school’s legal advisors must, as part of the application for conversion, submit a land questionnaire to the Department for Education (DfE) dealing with issues such as:

    1. the extent of the school site and its current ownership

    2. whether the school site is subject to any third party occupation or shared occupation

    3. whether there are any outstanding building works

    4. whether there are any community leisure or sports facilities on site (and whether any sports grant funding arrangements apply)

  2. property issues relating to the school site can delay the conversion process if they are not identified at an early stage and resolved satisfactorily—in particular:

    1. it may be unclear who actually owns the site where no trust deed exists and no title deeds or other suitable proof of private or local authority ownership are available

    2. the school site may be