When a school becomes an Academy, the responsibility for the premises transfers to the Academy or the Multi Academy Trust. This is by far the largest asset the Academy will have on its balance sheet and the consequences of not ensuring the relevant Health and Safety legislation and Safeguarding policies can be immense.

There have been incidences of deaths as well as schools burning down. This said, when you convert to an academy, there is little advice and guidance on the issues you should consider and documents you should have in place. The Academies are governed by the Academies Financial Handbook, however, you will find that the premises are not mentioned or covered in this.

The risk register is one of the most important documents and should be given the consideration it deserves and you will find this will appear in any audit the Academy receives.

A Trust needs to ensure that all Operational and Compliance risks are fully addressed – and not just the Financial ones.  The Trust has ownership of all the grounds and premises and whereas before conversion, schools have relied heavily on the local authority to support them with the delivery of their Critical Incident Management Plan, care and consideration should be given to ensuring the Trust has or procures the necessary skill sets to deliver every facet of premise management and critical incident response.

David Bagley

Author David Bagley

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