FOUNDATION AND TRUST SCHOOLS GUIDANCE FOR SUFFOLK SCHOOLS NOVEMBER 2009 Version 1.41 Version Control: V1.1 Additions from Alan Gillespie, December 2009 V1.2 Additions from Nick Wilding and December Admissions 2009 V1.3 Additions from Gavin Bultitude, Tim January 2010 Wetten, Maggie Peck V1.4 Additions from Maggie Peck, Iain January 2010 Maxwell V1.41 Addition from Mark Dickinson INTRODUCTION This guide is intended for schools in Suffolk who are considering changing to Foundation or Trust status. It is hoped that this will supplement for headteachers and governing bodies information that may be provided by for example the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). The Guide provides information about: Basic information about Trusts and Foundations Making the decision to change status - What schools need to think about The Trust and Foundation school‟s responsibilities and what to expect from the County Council in respect of: o Buildings o Admissions, and o Personnel matters Other matters that are relevant to becoming a Trust or Foundation School Basic Information about Trusts and Foundation Schools A Foundation school is a local authority maintained school that has decided to take on the additional responsibilities of owning its own buildings, managing its own admissions and appointing its own staff. In other respects it is like a community school and the local authority must treat it no less favourably than any other school it maintains. A Trust School is a Foundation School supported by a Trust. The Trust is a separate entity from the school and includes a range of partners who have been invited to join by the school. These partners will each bring expertise to the Trust and it is for the school to decide which partners should be approached and why. The Trust is a formal long-term partnership set up in accordance with the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. One or more schools will be part of the Trust. The Trust will appoint governors to the governing bodies of each of the schools that are part of the arrangement. No school may be a formal partner in more than one Trust. However, a Trust School could be associated with a second Trust. The DCSF has published a range of information on its website about changing to Foundation and Trust status. Links to this information and to other relevant information are provided at the end of this document. What is a Trust? A Trust is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. It must generate its own income and any budget it may have is separate from the school‟s. The Trust may appoint staff, who could work across the schools within the Trust. However, the Trust cannot appoint teaching staff. The Trust members can be individuals or organisations, and the local authority is limited to 20% representation. Local Authority Policy The County Council approved a policy statement for Foundation Schools, Trusts and Academies at the meeting of the Cabinet in March 2008. The policy on Trusts /Foundations states: In Suffolk schools are encouraged to consider Trust status, in circumstances where it is agreed by all parties that this will be advantageous for the students and communities which they serve and where the right partners can be identified. The advantages should include raised standards, increased opportunities for students and enhanced partnerships with local communities. The notion of area-wide partnerships / Trusts should also be explored, involving groups of schools as appropriate at primary and secondary level, specifically with a view to extending the partnerships that already exist between schools. Making the decision to change status Why would you want to go down the Foundation route? A school may wish to consider Foundation status if it felt that the increased autonomy would be of particular benefit in driving forward its vision for its future development. However, many schools in Suffolk have chosen only to go down the route of becoming a Foundation school in order to achieve Trust status and gain from the benefit that the formal partnerships bring. Schools should consider what benefits a change of status will bring to their community in terms of raised educational standards, which is at the heart of the school‟s work. In a Trust school, the benefits that each partner will bring should be spelled out clearly, especially during the set-up phase, so that the whole community is clear of their value in the partnership. Schools must realise the additional responsibilities that fall to them in the areas of staffing, buildings and admissions. More detail on these responsibilities is given below. The responsibilities of the Local Authority (Suffolk County Council) are also described below. What to do in order to change status A school planning to change status to Foundation or Trust will need to go through a series of formal steps. These actions that need to be taken by a school are explained in detail in the information provided by DCSF on the School Organisation website (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolorg/). Schools should note that this is a legal process and should be followed through usefully. Errors at any of these stages could result in a challenge to the school‟s status. The main stages and actions are summarised in the following table: STAGE PROCESS ACTIONS The governing body The governing body formally considers a change of writes to the LA that it is Stage category to foundation; considering a change of status. 1 initiation of statutory This must be to the Area Director. process The governing body prepares and arranges for public consultation Stage The governing body on the proposal, taking account of 2 consults on the plans all views. The governing body then makes the final decision to publish a Statutory Notice It is the legal duty for the Stage The governing body governing body to publish the 3 publishes proposals proposal, ensuring the LA has a copy of the Statutory Notice. A period of 4 weeks must be Stage Period for representations allowed for representations to be 4 made. The governing body has twelve months from the date of publication of the proposals to make a final decision on the change of status. Once a decision is made, the governing body must inform the LA and Secretary of State of the decision Stage Proposals are determined The Governing Body must 5 by the governing body prepare a draft Instrument of Government for the school and send this to the LA in good time before the implementation date as the LA makes the Instrument of Government. The school does not acquire foundation status until the Instrument is signed. Where the governing body of a voluntary aided school approves proposals to change category to For VA schools only – foundation, certain persons may Stage possible referral to the request that these proposals are 6 Schools Adjudicator referred to the adjudicator, e.g. the LA, the Diocesan Board of Education for any diocese of the Church of England The date at which the school changes its status. Governing Stage Implementation bodies are under a duty to 7 implement proposals in the form in which they were approved It is the duty of the governing body, at the key stages of this process described above, to keep the LA informed, amongst other stakeholders, of their intentions and decisions. This will allow a smoother transition, especially when dealing with the transfer of assets from the County Council to the newly-formed Foundation or Trust. The first point of contact for the school is the Area Director, who must be kept informed at each stage of the process. Formal advice about the legal process that a school must follow when moving to Foundation or Trust status is available from the DCSF (see “useful information” at the end of this document). All sections will cover the roles and responsibilities of the LA and school with respect to each area. Each section should point out the differences between the Foundation and Trusts with respect to each area. BUILDINGS Transfer of land and buildings. In the case of Foundation schools the buildings and assets transfer to the governing body of the school. For Trust schools, land and buildings transfer to the Trust. There may be some circumstances where the local authority retains some of the land or buildings because of use made by the wider community (for example a joint- use sports centre, or where the school does not have majority use. As the newly formed Foundation will be responsible for their own assets, a formal procedure has been set up by the LA to manage the transfer of these assets from the County Council to the Foundation. This is instigated when the governing body, under their statutory duty, under Stage 1 above, writes to the Local Authority (the relevant Area Director) to inform that the governing body has discussed the issue of a change of status from a Community School to a Foundation School, noting its intended implementation date A small group within the council has been formed to manage the process of asset transfer. A Surveyor from Corporate Property will arrange to visit the school to discuss and outline those assets to be transferred and those that will remain in County Council control. The precise boundary of the school site(s) will be agreed. An agreement will be finalised prior to the implementation date, listing all assets the school will be responsible for and those that will remain with the County Council. If terms are not agreed by the implementation date, those matters that have not been agreed will be referred to the Statutory Adjudicator for adjudication. On the implementation date the land and buildings that have been agreed to transfer will transfer whether or not the transfer documentation is completed. A six months period following that date is allowed to complete documentation otherwise the matter will be referred to the statutory adjudicator. Who will carry out legal documentation and deal with any legal issues? Suffolk County Council Legal Services will act for the council in the transfer and will prepare draft transfer documentation and lead on any applications to the statutory adjudicator. Legal Services will draw up the necessary documents to transfer the legal estate in the school site to either the governing body or the trust as the case may be. It will only be necessary for schools to take independent legal advice if there is a conflict of interest. Usually there will not be any conflict and Legal Services can act for both parties. Some schools have chosen to use external solicitors. The council can provide contact details on request. Joint User issues – non-transfer of certain facilities, access issues; As mentioned above, some assets will not be transferred to the Foundation; these will be identified and agreed prior to the implantation date. In some cases, the school site boundary may need to be re-defined to exclude these assets. Matters such as access, contributions to services etc will all be addressed and agreed. Where there is a substantial facility, such as a Sports Centre, where revenue funding is provided by the County Council, this will by default transfer to the Foundation. If the Centre is used by the community the County Council would expect this arrangement to continue. If the Foundation decides to limit or exclude the community altogether, then the revenue funding will be reduced or stopped by the County Council The transfer agreement will define all such arrangements and cover all such matters like shared costs of maintenance, shared services, shared access routes, shared boundaries etc. Leases, ownership of land by other parties; Upon transfer The Foundation school Governors will become the landlord in respect of any existing third party leases, tenancies, licences. In the case of a Trust, the Trust Governing Board will become the landlord. The Foundation school will be able to grant leases, tenancies, licences etc. The school will need to consult with the council prior to carrying this out and the council can challenge on the grounds of principle or terms. If the parties fail to reach agreement, the matter can be referred to the government‟s appointed statutory adjudicator. Disposals of an interest in land or premises A Trust or Foundation School that wishes to dispose of land or property will need to consult with the council and the council can challenge on the grounds of principle or terms. Any disposal would be subject to normal planning laws and, for playing fields, Section 77 of the 1996 Education Act, where disposal would require approval of the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. Rates A Foundation or trust school will be entitled to 80% rate relief with the remaining 20% discretionary on the relevant local authority. The council will make the necessary approach to the rating authority on the school‟s behalf. Such applications are always in arrears so there will be a period of adjustment required. However, please see finance section below. Buildings Insurance and fire risk Schools can continue to opt to purchase buildings and liability insurances through the County Council‟s schemes. In the event of a serious fire, the County Council will continue to fund any excesses that form part of the insurance scheme. Health and Safety The LA will continue to provide Health and Safety advice to schools and they are strongly advised to manage the school in accordance with this advice. The management of the school should continue to monitor matters relating to Health and safety, and the governing body should continue to ensure that procedures are in place. If schools choose not to follow this guidance they must have an alternative source of guidance and be able to demonstrate how health and safety matters are being dealt with. Ultimately, schools not following the local authority‟s advice could be liable to prosecution in the event of an incident unless they can demonstrate that appropriate health and safety guidance has been followed. The Governing Body is responsible for health and safety of pupils, staff, contractors and any other person affected by the work of the school. However, since this is already a key responsibility for schools it should not become a more onerous duty. The LA will continue to provide Health and Safety advice to schools and they are strongly advised to manage the school in accordance with this advice. The management of the school should continue to monitor matters relating to health and safety, and the governing body should continue to ensure that procedures are in place. If schools choose not to follow this guidance they must have an alternative source of guidance and be able to demonstrate how health and safety matters are being dealt with. Although the county council will continue to make its advice available to schools, the governing body will have to appoint (though, not necessarily, employ) a competent person to assist it in undertaking the measures it needs to take to comply with the statutory requirements and prohibitions and particularly by the fire safety legislation. Making the appointment is a statutory requirement and it must be recorded formally, probably in the school‟s health and safety policy statement. Foundation and Trust schools may appoint the County Council as its competent „person‟, but cannot appoint any individual employee of the county council without the written permission from the authority. Ultimately, governing bodies could be liable to prosecution in the event of a breach of any statutory duty. However, it will be a defence against any charge if the school can demonstrate that appropriate health and safety guidance has been followed and satisfactory systems of work are in place.