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What is an Academy School?

What is an academy school?
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We all know what primary and secondary schools are but what is an Academy School? If you’re considering which primary or secondary school to send your child to the decision between an academy and a local authority controlled school can be a difficult one. For those who haven’t been involved with academies before it’s hard to know what the differences are and the benefits that they might provide for your child. Here we look at exactly what academies are, how they differ and the benefits for schools.

What are they?

An academy school is still state funded, but is independently run and not controlled by the local authority. They have greater freedom over the curriculum, as well as the ability to set their own term dates and school day. They also have more control over their budget, allowing them to pay heads larger salaries and give bonuses to staff.What is an academy school?

Some academies are sponsored and these are usually schools that were under performing under the traditional system. Sponsors can include other schools, businesses, universities, charities and church bodies. The aim of the sponsors is to offer pupils a vision of a better future and to break the cycle of under achievement. The school is overseen by a governing body, which must include at least two parent governors.

What are the Differences?

Academies receive the same amount of funding per pupil as local authority controlled schools. Their money is received directly from the Education Funding Agency. However, they also receive an additional allowance for the services that were previously provided by the local authority.

These services are:

–          Behaviour support

–          Educational welfare

–          Educational psychology (except those related to a Statutory Assessment or Statement)

–          ICT

–          Special Educational Needs (SEN)

–          Sensory Impairment

They can choose to spend this money to achieve the best outcomes for the school. If they have less need for a particular service or can find it cheaper elsewhere then they’ll be making savings which can be used elsewhere.

Setting their own criteria

Academies have to follow the same rules on admissions, Special Education Needs (SEN) and exclusions as those in local authority control. They can, though, set their own criteria if they’re oversubscribed and specialist academies are allowed to select 10% of their pupils according to aptitude for a specific subject.

Why Do Schools want to be Academies?

There are currently 2,924 academies in England (May 2013) and the number is continuing to grow. Many schools appreciate the greater freedom that academy status brings them. They have control over services previously provided by the council, allowing them to buy in from outside providers and save money.What is an academy school?

Others see the benefits of linking with schools in the local area in order to share learning and resources. These include a secondary school working with their feeder primary schools and outstanding schools assisting under-performing ones to help raise standards.

Financial rewards

There are also financial rewards of becoming an academy. The Government provides £25,000 towards conversion costs. As they receive their finding direct, they have a greater opportunity to provide value for money.

Academies also have the desire to raise standards in failing schools and spread the achievements of outstanding facilities. Figures show that the standards and results in academies increase twice as fast as those of other schools.

Whether you agree with them or not, academies are a key part of England’s education system. With the numbers increasing steadily, there’s likely to be one within your local area.

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About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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