As part of today’s budget, the government has announced that all schools are to convert to academies by 2022. The legislation will bring to an end local authority involvement in schools – a relationship which stretches back to 1902.
Academies receive their funding directly from the Education Funding Agency, rather than from the local authority. They have greater freedoms over how they deliver the curriculum, which the government believes will lead to greater innovation and benefits students. Multi-Academy trusts are believed to provide greater benefits in terms of collaboration and efficiencies than independent academies.
Schools converting to academies have historically received grant funding along with additional funding. This was to cover costs previously incurred by the local authority, which the academy will now need to fund themselves. It is not yet clear whether this funding will continue to be made available to all of the schools who convert before 2022. The Department for Education is currently undertaking a consultation process as it looks to fund schools and academies in the fairest way possible. Today’s announcement will have an impact on the proposals made once the consultation closes.
How many are already academies?
Currently, around 20% of all primary and secondary schools nationwide are academies. Two thirds of secondary schools have converted, compared to just 14% of primary schools. There are just 13 academies in Newcastle, although a further five are in the process of converting, according to the latest figures from the EFA. It is clear that this will have a significant impact across the North East, as large numbers of schools begin to consider their options and start the conversion process.