Academies did receive unfair cash incentives

Fiona Millar's picture
More evidence today in the Financial Times (unfortunately behind a paywall) that early academy converter schools have been given a cash bonus that they didn't deserve due to a miscalculation of the money needed to purchase services no longer provided by local authorities.

According to the article by Education Correspondent Christopher Cook, even the DFE now admits that the system needs to be made fairer and more transparent in the future. I think that is as close an admission we will get that it has not been fair and transparent in the past.

According to Cook 842 schools  converted in 2010-11 and an average 1000 pupil secondary would have received a £118 K bonus. Almost 800 schools may have been overfunded in 2011-12 Schools in some boroughs received upwards of £300 K   . He quotes a councillor in the London borough of Hillingdon explaining that in his borough converter schools received an extra £358 K . This, he added, was the real reason many schools opted for academy status NOT the lure of extra freedom.

In the meantime local authorities budgets are still being top sliced to claw back the money that Cook notes has been "sluiced" into these schools. Even some academy sponsors and the new Chief Inspector of Schools Michael Wilshaw are , according to the article, now worried about whether stand alone academies will have the capacity to raise standards as predicted.




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Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 08/12/2011 - 16:06

Many schools made it clear that they were after the extra money in their consultation letters. Bourne Grammar School, for example, said in its first consultation letter that it expected to benefit significantly from academy conversion. The school's conversion was delayed and Bourne Grammar has now had to announce that:

"The financial advantages which were so significant last year have diminished somewhat and may well diminish further – the DfE has made it clear that there should be no financial advantage to Academies – but it is clear that it is still financially advantageous to convert and, for a selective school, that advantage may be permanent. In particular, the Governors would have greater freedom in managing our budget."

I am not sure what is meant by the suggestion that as Bourne Grammar is a selective school then any financial "advantage" would be permanent. The DfE said some time ago that the current system of funding academies is unsustainable (see link in side bar). It would follow, then, that any reduction in funding would be shared between all academies - or will selective academies be somehow exempt?

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 08/12/2011 - 16:30

Off topic - but no apologies. A message to Sir Michael Wilshaw (see link in Fiona's article). Thank you, Sir Michael, for repeating the faulty OECD data about the performance of UK students since 2000 - you have joined the ranks of politicians misusing these figures. Thank you for supporting more political interference in education, as if teachers weren't already punch-drunk through initiatives during the last 25 years. Thank you again, for making any teacher who entered the profession in the last 43 years feel as if their contribution has been lacklustre especially when compared with the bright, young things now entering teaching. Thank you for making me feel that all the busting-a-gut effort that I put into my years of teaching was a waste of time because none of my Set 4 English pupils gained GCSE C. And thank you for rubbishing the innovative and pioneering work that my school did on preparing pupils for the world of work.

Yes, Sir Michael, we know that we're often surrogate parents. We've been cried on, confided in, and relied upon. You know this, because you've been there too. Sometimes it becomes too much - like the time I comforted a pupil whose family had been left homeless after a house fire, when I had to tell my tutor group that the new-born niece of one their classmates had died suddenly, when I listened to a girl tell me that neither of her separated parents particularly wanted her. And then I had to go off and teach.

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