Are you making significant changes to an academy?

April 17, 2024

The DfE recently published new guidance relating to significant changes for Academies. The guidance, which comes into force on 22 April 2024, has been re-framed around strategic place planning, specifically ensuring sufficient school places and managing any excess capacity in the system.

The Guidance focuses on local authorities, academy trusts and the DfE working together to support local authorities in the delivery of their place planning responsibilities.

If the place planning process identifies a need to make a 'significant change', then the academy trust is required to make an application to the DfE under Part 2 of the Guidance.

'Significant changes' to an academy could include:

  • Physical expansion: increasing the physical size or capacity of the academy by building or reorganizing space; and / or
  • Changing the school’s age range: perhaps by opening or closing a nursery or sixth form.

In contrast to the previous regime, there are now three 'tiers' for the application and assessment process. The relevant tier affects the information to be submitted and the level at which approval within the DfE is required.

Maintained schools will still go through the prescribed alterations route for their significant changes.

If you need help in understanding how this Guidance may affect your academy trust, contact Chloe Brunton, Partner and Education lawyer at VWV at