In order to speed up conversions, the White Paper suggests that the land should instead be transferred from the Local Authority to the Secretary of State, who will grant a 125 year lease to the academy. It is doubtful that this will speed up the process. Surely it will only make it more complicated. It is also likely that the land aspects are left to be dealt with following the conversion date and in our experience this is a more protracted process.
We have also noticed that academy applications are currently under a lot more scrutiny by the Department for Education. Much more information is being required from schools applying to be academies at an earlier stage, particularly in relation to their structure and governance. Although this information is important, the Department of Education appear to be raising a number of queries with the application before it can be approved. This means that governing bodies are having to gather a lot of information, have a clear vision for the trust governance, and make decisions at the application stage. This seems to be slowing the process down before the academy order is even granted.
The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said earlier this month that plans to make schools switch had been dropped - this followed fierce criticism from teachers, parents, unions and even some Conservative MPs. One of the stated aims of the legislation is to "move towards a system where all schools are academies, and all schools are funded fairly". It also aims to make the process of becoming an academy "swifter and smoother".