Every school to become an academy - what will this mean?


22 March, 2016

This week the Chancellor has confirmed plans for all schools in England to become academies. Here we look at the potential implications of this and what the change means.

An academy is an independent, state-funded school, who receives their funding directly from the central government, rather than through a local authority.

Since 2010 schools have been allowed to become academies if they wish to do so. However, George Osborne has this week said all schools must become academies by 2010 or have official plans to do so by 2022.

Will Academy schools be bound by the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document?

No. Academy schools will not be bound by the STPCD and instead will be free to adopt new terms and conditions for new staff.

Existing staff who agree to a change of contract following academy conversion would be bound by any new contract devised by the academy. New contracts would be required where an employee wishes to move from full time to part time working or in the event of a change in role within the school.

What will happen to pay and conditions?

Because of the protection afforded by TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006), in the first instance, pay and conditions would remain the same for existing employees.

However, it will be possible for new employees to be employed on different pay and conditions as academy schools are in no way bound by the national pay and conditions framework nor any agreements negotiated within your local authority.

Can pay and conditions be changed after a transfer to an academy?

Whilst employees will be protected by the TUPE Regulations for changes associated with the transfer it may be possible for pay and conditions to be changed. For example, employees may be required to sign a new contract of employment if accepting a new post within the school or varying hours of work. It is also a possibility that changes can be made for 'economic, technical or organisational reasons'. This would include things such as restructuring.

It is important to understand that TUPE does not offer unlimited protection of employees' pay and conditions after the transfer.

What kind of changes to pay and conditions might be proposed?

It is possible for changes of all kinds to be proposed. In some current academies there is Saturday working, others have longer school days and longer school years. Whilst some of these academies provide for slightly enhanced pay to reflect these extensions, other academies do not. It is for academies to determine their terms.

What will happen to the support currently provided by the local authority?

Academy status would remove the provision of support from the local authority, including their advisory services, special educational needs (SEN) and disability support, behaviour support, child and adolescent health and social care services, emergency contingencies as well as payroll support. Any school therefore that becomes an academy would need to fund such provision from within its own budget but with that comes more choice, more autonomy and more bargaining power in renegotiating suppliers contracts.

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