Somerset

Somerset academies' legal costs to be £110,000

The legal costs of converting 32 schools into academies in Somerset will cost the county council about £113,000, the authority has revealed.

Eight schools have been converted into academies already while the remaining 24 are going through the process.

A spokesman for the Conservative-led council said it had "worked hard to minimise costs".

Schools will also have to pay for legal costs but each will receive £25,000 from the Department for Education.

The legal costs involve transferring the school's assets, like playing fields and buildings from the county council to the academy, as well as moving staff over to the new employer, which will be the academy trust.

Once the school becomes an academy, it will break free from county council control and will answer directly to the Department for Education.

Academies will also have financial independence.

The academy's budget will come directly from the government, which will mean no money can be siphoned off by the county council to pay for other services like IT and special needs work, which is usually shared around all schools.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is against the conversion.

Robin Head, from the Somerset branch of the NUT said: "Not only is this money being used by the local authority to set up academies, it will also take money centrally away from the pot of money which goes to all schools."

The Department for Education has so far declined to comment on why local councils will not receive any financial help to pay for legal costs.

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