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FEATURE FOCUS: SCHOOL FINANCES


Managing academy schools - what you need to take into account


attracted by the opportunity to exert greater freedom over the curriculum, budget and staff. The policy originated under the Labour


government as a means of improving struggling schools, particularly in deprived areas. Though this premise continues under the sponsored-academy model, where failing schools are taken over and run by an academy trust, all schools can now become academies, regardless of their performance. The present government announced plans to turn all English schools into academies by 2020, and the initiative has now expanded to include special schools, free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools. The number of academy schools is growing


T


his month, in our first look at the often thorny issue of school finance, Jamie


Russell, expert on academies at Perrys Chartered Accountants, looks at the regulations governing academies and in particular, how they differ from schools in a number of areas.


The government announced it was encouraging state-funded schools to convert to academies in 2010. Funded directly by the Department for Education, completely independent of local authority control, many were immediately


and there are currently around 7,500. Of the more than 3,800 secondary schools in England, 60% are now academies; and 20% of primary schools - 2,000 out of more than 16,000 - now have academy status.


How they are governed Academies are run by individual charitable bodies called academy trusts, which employ the staff. An academy trust that runs more than one academy is called an academy chain. Around two thirds of academies are in academy chains, run by multi- academy trusts (MATs).


30 www.education-today.co.uk There are two main types of academy –


sponsored and converter. Sponsored academies have sponsors such as businesses, universities, faith groups, other schools or voluntary groups, which have majority control of the academy trust. Sponsored academies were in the past under- performing schools that became academies to improve standards, though now this is often not the case. Converter academies are schools already


deemed successful that have chosen to convert to academy status to benefit from increased autonomy. Unlike schools, the external sponsors of an


academy, or the Academy Trust, appoint the majority of governors, known as trustees.


Budget control The freedom to control where money is allocated, such as staff salaries and the curriculum, is one of the attractions of becoming an academy. However, they are subject to strict, complex financial rules, and converting to academy status brings many new financial responsibilities. Setting a comprehensive budget is the most


important undertaking any academy faces. New academies are required to prepare a budget and send it to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) within six weeks of its final funding letter. As with


November 2018


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