Is the government about to claw back money from academies to stop cuts in public services?

Francis Gilbert's picture
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Councillor Peter Downes delivered a devastating speech at the Anti-Academies Alliance's conference today in which he forensically proved just how muddled the academies programme is. His carefully worked-out calculations, together with the news today that the government is doing a U-turn on its academies funding after the threats of legal action, prove that the academies funding is a state of complete chaos. He's shown how the Department for Education has "top-sliced" local authority budgets in a very crude way and then allocated that money to academies. The problem is that they've miscalculated the amount they've "top-sliced" and given academies too much money, which has meant that LA's don't have enough money for other vital public services such as social services and so forth. Now that there are so many schools wanting to convert to being academies because of the generous "bonus" on offer, the DfE is faced with creating a black hole in local authority finances in order to continue funding academies at the current rate. Downes writes:

"The DfE have recently produced a consultation on the rationale and principles of school funding in which they emphasise, many times, that equitable funding for all types of schools is priority. If this aspiration is to be honoured, urgent measures need to be taken to reduce the Local Authority Central Spend Equivalent Grant (LACSEG) to the correct bonus-free level for 2012-2013, without 'protection'. Some would argue that equity demands that the excess bones for the preceding years should be identified and clawed back."

This comes on top of the news that the government is doing another U-turn and revising its funding formula for academies, after being threatened with legal action by 23 councils this May.
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Ian Taylor's picture
Sat, 11/06/2011 - 12:46

Most schools that are applying for Academy status have done so for financial reasons. They have calculated that the extra money they will receive, is greater than the actual cost of the additional services they will need to pay for. Headteachers and their bursars are now very skilled at these sorts of calculations. The financial gain is huge in most cases, and state schools are short of cash. Now we know where this extra money has come from. It is a pity that Michael Gove and his officials are less competent at financial calculations. Although I do not blame schools for choosing to follow the money, it is sad that we are developing education policy using greed as the guiding light. That was no mistake by Michael Gove. He intended to use greed as his method of persuasion, rather than any intellectual argument.

Fiona Millar's picture
Sat, 11/06/2011 - 13:50

The way academy funding has been allocated is pretty scandalous - there are also reports of the DFE ready reckoner simply making the wrong calculations, on which governing bodies are making decisions.

However I would not be hopeful that the transitional protection will be removed, even if there is a need to level out school funding over the next five years. It will be very hard (politically) to take disproportionately large sums from any school's budget, and the DFE has committed to no more than 2% cuts. This means the early converters, who took advantage of the bribes Ian refers to, will continue to benefit, although current and later converters will have some serious thinking to do as they may end up worse off, post conversion,given the small allocations that will now be made to academy converts and the need to purchase services from outside, take on responsibility for pensions etc.

W Smith's picture
Sat, 11/06/2011 - 14:58

The whole academy , free school utopia championed by Mr Gove is past scandalous. It is criminal. At the moment many parents do not have a clue what is going on behind their own and their children's backs. Many people working within the education system don't either, especially a lot of teachers to busy working hard for their children, on top of having to achieve meaningless targets, to realise that their very profession is being eroded and diminished. Teachers, myself included, need to be able to trust our governments to support and resource our schools, so that we can get on with the day to day hard graft of teaching and learning. Politics and greed are distorting what is and can continue to be a great education system for all.

How to communicate Mr Gove's mess and it's consequences to those not yet part of or aware of the demise of state education is the big question. We are letting him destroy our children's future with a stupidly, ignorant, unfair and bias 'so called' plan and he has the nerve to accuse us of living in the dark ages. The man is leading us into a black hole , you can't get any darker than that!

Paul Atherton's picture
Sun, 12/06/2011 - 11:56

Wendy,

Even though I have an 11 year old currently in a state school in South Wales, I can assure you that nobody had a clue what was going in education for the past 10 years either.

It's only through my recent investigations that I have actually discovered how ludicrously complex the education system has become.

All based on that dreaded word "choice".

I helped the teachers at Bexley Business Academy (Blair's first City Academy School in Kent) not long after it first opened, as the school incorporated their own Television Studio and nobody knew how to use it. Which, was the first time, I was aware of any changes in education and even then it had no bearing on me because there were none in Wales.

As a hard working teacher, currently in the system, when did you notice the complexities and target scoring?

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