Academies

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Academisation


Academisation has only taken hold in England with both Wales and Scotland staying with local authority controlled schools[1] 27% of primary schools and 72% of secondary schools are acadamies.Converting maintained schools to academies has cost the Department an estimated £745 million between 2010-2018. It is the stated aim of the government to convert all schools to academies[2].


  1. So why are there no academy schools in Wales?, BBC, 16 March 2016https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-35821725
  2. https://www.nao.org.uk/press-release/converting-maintained-schools-to-academies/


Executive Pay


1,000 academy trusts paid a six-figure salary to at least one staff member last year.

A total of 988 trusts, the not-for-profit charities that oversee academy schools, had at least one person on £100,000 or more in 2017-18, with 146 paying £150,000 or more to at least one employee.

The proportion of trusts paying £150,000-plus salaries has risen by 20% in a year, with a 7.6% rise among those with at least one person above £100,000. The rise came despite an increase in the number of academy trusts in deficit, from 5.9 to 6.4%.

Academies are not part of nationally set pay structures so trusts are left free to set remuneration as they see fit. Most of the best-paid leaders in English schools are now trust chief executives, running groups of academies. Since last year ministers have written to 213 trusts with at least one person on £100,000 or more asking for justification. However, only 50 trusts had reduced remuneration.

One of the trusts to pay out a £150,000-plus salary was the Education Fellowship Trust based in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Last year it was in the process of giving up all its schools after it collapsed amid reported financial problems and concerns from Ofsted about low standards.[1]

Academies not being subject to nationally set pay structures are at liberty not to pass on to teachers the recently awarded 2% payrise [[citation needed]]


  1. Tally of £150,000 school academy bosses jumps by 20%, The Guardian, Warwick Mansell and Michael Savage, 28 Jul 2019: https://www.dumptheguardian.com/education/2019/jul/28/number-150000-salary-school-academy-bosses-jumps-20-per-cent


Failing Education Standards


Two in three academy chains are “failing” pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds according to a 2018 study by the Sutton Trust.

Of the 38 underperforming chains, eight had scores which were well below the national average for disadvantaged pupils. These chains have 61 schools.

Despite the additional resources that have been directed into saving academies and setting them up, there is no evidence that they improve education outcomes. While the number of children leaving schools when they are aged 15 or 16 is rising nationally (from less than 0.1% seven years ago to 2% this year), and some large local authorities have seen rises of 4-5%, academies are losing more pupils than other types of schools (5-10%).[1]

The group includes Wakefield City Academies Trust, which was forced to hand over all its 21 schools, the University of Chester Academies Trust (Ucat) and Midland Academies Trust. [2]


  1. The Guardian view on academy schools: cracks in the system, Guardian, 6 November 2018: https://www.theguardian.com/education/commentisfree/2018/nov/06/the-guardian-view-on-academies-cracks-in-the-system
  2. Two in three academy chains 'fail' poorer pupils, study finds, The Independent, 20 December 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/academy-chains-schools-sutton-trust-poorer-pupils-social-mobility-government-a8691261.html Academies fail, parents despair – but the Tories say there’s no going back, The Guardian 11 Sep 2018: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/11/academies-parents-tories-labour


Failing Academies


  • In July 2016 The Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust (LSSAT) was forced to give up its nine schools. Its accounts reveal that it used public funding to pay consultants more than £1,000 a day even as it was drawing on emergency public funding to ensure classrooms could open with basic equipment and furniture. This followed LSSAT pulling out of running Tabor Academy, in Essex, just months after it was put into special measures by Ofsted.[1]
  • In March 2017 the Education Fellowship trust, founded by Sir Ewan Harper, a key influencer of Tony Blair’s academies policy, says that it will be giving up its 12 schools. The move follows a series of damning Ofsted judgments and serious financial problems. The trust was threatened with having funding scrapped for one of its schools, the Wrenn School in Northamptonshire, by schools commissioner Martin Post in January 2017, after Ofsted inspectors rated the school “inadequate”. The school had racked up a £1.3 million deficit in 2016 – nearly four times the average deficit for secondary academies in the red.[2]
  • In November 2017 the Wakefield City Academies Trust made and announcement that it would be is pulling out of all 21 of its schools, having been plagued by questions over its finances. Revelations include the payment of more than £400,000 for services to companies connected with its chief executive, Mike Ramsey, and his daughter.[3][4]
    • DfE's Education Funding Agency revealed "extreme concern" in response to Ramsey being paid £82,000 for 15 weeks' work, and in total found 16 breaches of official guidance[5]
    • In October 2017, Wakefield City Academies Trust stood accused of asset stripping when it was reported to have transferred funds away from the schools it managed, including hundreds of thousands of pounds raised for the schools by volunteers.[6]
  • In January 2018 the Perry Beeches Academy Trust, which David Cameron once praised as “a real success story”, says it will hand over its five schools after reports of financial mismanagement. The trust paid an additional salary of £120,000 over two years to its former chief executive on top of his £80,000 annual salary.[7]
  • Bright Tribe Academy was investigated over false government funding claims. According to Panorama, Bright Tribe received £320,000 for new energy efficient lighting, but installed less than a third of the lights needed. A further £202,000 was claimed to upgrade school boilers, but moved old boilers from disused parts of the school. Many other funding issues were raised by Panorama[8][9]
  • DfE data shows that the number of primary schools transferred between academy trusts following conversion has tripled in just three years, from 39 to 121. Since 2013-14 more than 300 primary academies have been rebrokered or moved between trusts.[10]


  1. Academy trust that provided advisers for RSCs to hand over its schools to new sponsors, Schoolsweek, 24 July 2016: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/academy-trust-that-provided-advisors-for-rscs-to-hand-over-schools-to-new-sponsors/
  2. Education Fellowship trust gives up all 12 schools over poor performance, Schoolsweek: 10th Mar 2017,https://schoolsweek.co.uk/education-fellowship-trust-gives-up-all-12-schools-over-poor-performance/
  3. DfE gave academy trust £500k despite serious concerns about finances, Schoolsweek, 8th Mar 2019: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dfe-gave-academy-trust-500k-despite-serious-concerns-about-finances/
  4. Wakefield City Academies Trust spent £1m sacking staff https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leeds-43920990
  5. 'Extreme concern' over academy trust that paid CEO £82k just three months, Independent, 4 March 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/extreme-concern-wakefield-academy-trust-paid-ceo-mike-ramsay-82k-15-weeks-a7399236.html.
  6. Collapsing academy trust ‘asset-stripped its schools of millions’, Guardian, 21 Oct 2017 https://www.dumptheguardian.com/education/2017/oct/21/collapsing-wakefield-city-academies-trust-asset-stripped-schools-millions-say-furious-parents
  7. Doomed Perry Beeches academy trust had a £1.5 million deficit, Schoolsweek, 6th Jun 2018 https://schoolsweek.co.uk/doomed-perry-beeches-academy-trust-had-a-1-5-million-deficit/
  8. Bright Tribe investigated over false government funding claims, Schoolsweek, 10 September 2018: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/bright-tribe-investigated-over-false-government-funding-claims/
  9. Academy chain accused of misusing government funds, BBC, 10 September 2018: https://www.bbc.com/news/education-45472189
  10. More than 300 English primary schools forced to become academies, Guardian, 11 July 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jul/11/more-than-300-english-primary-schools-forced-to-become-academies

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