Warning for schools investigating academy status

Vicky Angear

SCHOOLS and governors are being warned to take legal advice when looking into academy status.

Cllr Jeremy Blatchford, North Somerset’s executive member for children and young people’s services, has stressed that schools keen to become academies need to have a strong management team and savings in place to deal with any problems which may arise.

He said: “There’s a concern that governors of schools need to be aware of their liabilities.

“I think there’s a tendency to think everything will be OK if you’ve done CRB checks, but there are always going to be some that slip through.

“If you have a child protection issue a school can easily run up �1,000 per hour. You may need to bring in clinical and educational psychologists, social workers and emergency teams, which can cost thousands of pounds. When something goes wrong you can lose a lot of money very fast.

“North Somerset Council currently pays for all of this, but academies have to pay for it themselves and can easily run up a huge bill that they cannot pay. In some cases where governors have been negligent they can be asked to pay.

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“Our secondary schools in particular are exceptionally well run with big infrastructures in place, but if you get a primary school wanting to become an academy they may not have the support structures they need.

“If schools are going to become academies they really need to look at their support structures and get legal advice.”