Academy conversions have cost millions – and cost is likely to escalate

Janet Downs's picture
£18,642,779 has been spent by the Department for Education (DfE) on giving converter grants of £25K to each of the 1031 schools that converted to academy status between the election and October 2011.

It’s estimated that between 1550 and 2113 schools will convert in 2011/12.  The taxpayer, therefore, will pay millions of pounds more in grants to converter schools in this financial year alone.  This amount will rocket as more schools convert in future financial years.

But this is only part of the cost.  The Academies Act financial impact assessment calculated that conversion could cost around £75-80K per school so any expenditure above the £25K grant has to be borne by the school itself.

There’s still more.  There are currently 98 full-time equivalent officials working exclusively in the Department's Academy Converter Division plus further staff working on policy and programme delivery connected with academies at a staff cost of £2,443,000.  And there are 94 (full-time equivalent) in the free schools team (that’s about four for every free school opened to date).  There will, no doubt, be similar numbers of staff working on behalf of University Technical Colleges and studio schools.  That leaves about 2,100 staff supporting the remaining 19,000 non-academy schools in England.  It’s clear where the Department’s priorities lie and these are not with the majority of English schools.

And that’s not all.  Local Authorities (LAs) have to pay for the transfer of land, buildings and staff from the LA to each Academy Trust.  North Lincolnshire councillors said that it costs the Council £30,000 on legal fees to convert just one school to an academy.  This cost is borne by council taxpayers, and it is money that is taken away from other services.

The Government keeps telling the electorate that the country is facing a severe deficit and that cuts are necessary.  Yet the Government can spend millions of pounds on unnecessary academy conversions.
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Helen Flynn's picture
Sat, 22/10/2011 - 15:52

I know, Janet, it's breathtaking arrogance isn't it? One thing for sure is that the lawyers, insurance companies, accountancy firms and actuarial firms are enjoying a bonanza of uncalled for activity, when there is no evidence that academy status will make a jot of difference to achievement, especially to convertor schools--many of which were outstanding anyway.
I sometimes think that the modest rise in private sector employment recently announced could be accounted for by this vacuous and unnecessary new spate of work that involves charging for the legal and financial implications of turning our schools into companies.

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