If we don’t become an academy, central government and funding agencies will ignore us…

Janet Downs's picture
“As a local authority school we simply would not be listened to by central government or other funding agencies…”

This is one of the reasons cited by Hove Park School, Brighton, for becoming an academy.

The school also says:

“The Local Authority system is under-funded and unable to provide the support to schools that it has in the past.”

These two sentences appear to confirm what many have suspected:

1The Government is creating a two-tier system in which non-academies (still the majority) would be treated less favourably than academies. The money available for maintenance capital in 2014/15, for example, is disproportionately higher for 3693 academies* (£442m) than for 16,000+ non-academies (£699m). And last week Education Secretary Michael Gove failed to confirm that £400m had not been siphoned from Basic Needs Allocation to fund free schools.

2Local authorities are being so under-funded they are unable to support schools adequately.

It would appear, then, that the Government is discriminating against the majority of schools that are not academies.

It is an indictment on this Government’s attitude towards schools that it appears to dismiss the 16,000 non-academies. The Department for Education page for schools and colleges contains a heading for academies and free schools but none for local authority maintained schools. If you Google “department for education maintained schools”, the top item (18 May 2014) was “Types of schools – Gov UK”. If you click on the link you will be taken to the page “Academies and Free Schools”.

It is as if the majority of schools in England do not exist as far as DfE information is concerned.

But the majority of schools in England are NOT academies. And the majority of English pupils are being educated in non-academy schools.


No school should feel forced to convert to academy status to access funds which should be available equally and fairly to all schools in England. And all parents should be angry if schools feel that the only way to be listened to is to become an academy.

*open by 1 April 2014
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Graham Clarke's picture
Sun, 18/05/2014 - 11:39

Janet - on the capital funding the link you provided suggests it's calculated on a per pupil basis and weighted towards secondary. Have you taken that into account?

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/05/2014 - 12:14

Graham - I was referring to the maintenance allocation (total £1.2b). I didn't comment on the Devolved Formula Capital which is, as you say, weighted towards secondary schools: £11.25 per primary pupil; £16.88 per secondary pupil) into account. £4000 is allocated under DFC to each school irrespective of stage. The total budget for DFC is £200m.

So, how was this £200m allocated?

The capital allocations for 2014/15 (downloadable below) show the total allocated to non-academies is £139,976,201. This is shared between about 17,000 non-academies including over 1,000 PRUs, maintained special schools and nurseries. I worked it out (roughly) to be an average of £8000 per non-academy (please correct me if I'm wrong - my head's beginning to spin).

The spreadsheet for academies doesn't make it clear at the top how much was spent (the non-academy spreadsheet did). However, tucked at the bottom was this info:

£54,557,697 was the total allocated to 3945 academies including 70 free schools. The average received was £13,830.

It appears, then, according to my rough (and as yet unchecked) calculations that academies received on average nearly £6000 more than non-academies.


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/05/2014 - 16:58

Graham - I've just looked in detail at the maintenance breakdown given by the Government. The money was allocated as follows:

Academies: £441,223,807
City Tech Colleges: £657,570
NIMSS*: £1,531,550
Sixth Form Colleges: £57,678,535
Local authority schools: £553,135,210
Voluntary Aided schools: £145,773,327

Academies are in the minority: 3693 opened on 1 April 2014. But the amount they received for maintenance was about 4/5th of the amount allocated to local authorities for their schools. The latter still greatly outnumber academies.


*No idea what these are

Graham Clarke's picture
Mon, 19/05/2014 - 17:20

But it's not as simple a just looking at school numbers is it. The funding is on a per pupil basis with a weighting towards secondary schools. The composition of academies and LA schools in terms of phase is now very different -

Academies - approx 50% are secondary schools.
LA - approx something like 10-15% are secondary schools.

You would expect secondary schools to get more than primary schools based on pupil numbers and the weighting and hence academies will get a disproportionately large share of the pot (even accepting the fixed amount in DFC)

I've no doubt your calculations are correct but the comparison is surely meaningless?

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 20/05/2014 - 08:44

Graham - the long answer: only the Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) is weighted in favour of secondary schools. The much larger maintenance budget is not. The maintenance budget for academies is, as I've said, 4/5 of that for a much larger number of non-academy schools.

Approximately 54% of secondary schools are academies. That means approximately 46% are not. A much smaller proportion of primary schools are academies (see below for 2013 figures - admittedly out-of-date but give some idea). Given that nearly half of secondary schools and the majority of primaries are not academies, then it should be expected that the maintenance budget for non-academies would be higher than it is).

And how do you account for £658k being awarded to CTCs - there are only 3 left? That's c £251k each!

Data on Jan 2013:

Up-to-date figures (Jan 2014) for school types in England haven't yet been released. But the last ones based on January 2013 show secondary school types as follows:

1638 academies (including free schools, studio schools and UTCs)
871 community schools (LA)
354 Voluntary aided
55 Voluntary controlled
360 Foundation schools
3 City Technology Colleges (CTCs)

There were, therefore, 1286 non-academy secondary schools (excluding VA and CTC which have a separate budget for maintenance).

Primary schools were as follows:

12,231 non-academies (excluding VA)
3547 VA
1006 academies

Tables downloadable here.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 20/05/2014 - 08:55

Graham - the short answer. It is not meaningless to compare the maintenance budget allocated to academies and non-academies (excluding VA schools and CTCs which have separate budgets). About 45% of secondary schools and the majority of primary schools are still non-academies. It should be expected, therefore, they should receive a budget which is more than 1/5 above that allocated to academies.

And even if the comparison were meaningless, there is a perception (put into words by Hove Park School) that non-academies will be discriminated against.

agov's picture
Mon, 19/05/2014 - 06:21

One of the first things Gove did was to slash the Formula Capital budget by 60% (- the original intention was to cut by 90%).

All that extra free money academies get one way or another has to come from somewhere.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/05/2014 - 11:08

Thanks, agov. I'd forgotten about the 60% reduction. And I should also have remembered that National Audit Office found the Government had overspent £1b on the academies programme.

Andy V's picture
Tue, 20/05/2014 - 17:31

The only way to adjudge whether there is an imbalance is, as Graham has highlighted, is to look at the numbers of pupils on roll at the schools involved. That is to say, the capitation impact will either support Janet's postulation or throw-up the reality of the situation.

Graham Clarke's picture
Tue, 20/05/2014 - 21:02

Andy – thanks, I was thinking I had gone mad and was just missing something.

Janet – I’m no expert on capital funding, but something you said here looks wrong “only the Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) is weighted in favour of secondary schools. The much larger maintenance budget is not.“

Let’s go back and look at the links you provided, from those
DFC – “DFC comprises a lump sum element of £4,000 plus a per-pupil element based on January 2013 pupil census. The per-pupil payment is £11.25 for nursery or primary pupils. Secondary pupils are paid at 1.5 times this rate (£16.88). Pupils at non-maintained special schools or Pupil Referral Units and boarders are paid at three times (£33.75).”
Maintenance – “Funding for building condition and maintenance in 2014/15 to be on a per-pupil basis. Allocations in future years to be targeted based on building condition (once building survey programmes are up to date). …. Per-pupil element weighted as in Devolved Formula Capital. Capital element reflects local building costs and classification per Schools Building Survey.”

Your assertion that the maintenance capital is not weighted in favour of secondary appears to not be true. Furthermore it is driven by pupil numbers which further weights towards secondary schools (given that they tend to be larger than primary schools).
What I was getting at before is that because the primary/secondary mix is very different for academies vs non-academies doing a straight comparison between average amounts or total pots based on number of schools is meaningless. Secondary schools attract more money, academies are more likely to be secondary schools than LA schools are (about 50:50 vs 10:90)

So some maths to see why this matters (stick with me)

You say “I worked it out (roughly) to be an average of £8000 per non-academy… the average received [for academies] was £13,830. It appears, then, according to my rough (and as yet unchecked) calculations that academies received on average nearly £6000 more than non-academies.”
As I said before I’ve reason to doubt that your calculations were correct. What I am challenging is the fact that this finding is in any way interesting or reflecting something dodgy going on. Here’s why:
Based on the links and data you’ve provided
-A primary school will get £4000 + £11.25xPupil numbers
-A secondary school will get £4000 + £16.88 x pupil numbers
-Average primary school c.250 pupils, average secondary school c.1000 pupils
-So average primary school gets about £6,800. Average secondary school gets about £21,000

Yes? Seems sensible.

The key issue is that the average for LA schools is 90% primary and 10% secondary –
overall average = 0.9*6,800 + 0.1*21,000 -> £8,200

Average for academies is 50% secondary and 50% primary = 0.5*6,800+0.5*21000 -> £13,900

So a difference of nearly £6,000 – and matching your figures almost exactly calculated in the opposite direction- yet I have assumed that academies and LA schools are funded in exactly the same way. The only difference between them is phase mix (my calculation probably underestimates the difference since academies tend to be larger than other schools).

On maintenance capital:
Bit more tricky since it relies on pupil numbers in each school type and the published DfE data is somewhat behind the times! But from the technical note you provided we weight pupil numbers as 1xprimary, 1.5x secondary and 3xspecial/PRU. So total weighted pupil numbers is around 9.5 million with a pot of £1.2 billion. In short each pupil attracts about £127

Based on the pupil numbers in the table that you provided we’d have weighted pupil numbers (i.e. 1 x primary + 1.5 x secondary…) of around 3m in academies and 5 million in community, VC, foundation. Which would suggest that academy funding should be about 3/5 that of LA schools. Remember though that this data is at January 2013 and since then (again according to the links you’ve provided) there have been about 200 secondary and over 900 academies opened (as well as free schools). Therefore the 4/5 ratio of maintenance capital by 2014 looks right.

And to come back to your specific point on CTCs “And how do you account for £658k being awarded to CTCs – there are only 3 left? That’s c £251k each!” From this data pupil numbers in CTCs = 3,630 weighted is = 5,445 so on my back of the envelope calculations they should get around £690k so that doesn’t look wide of the mark (given some assumptions along the way).

Conclusion – nothing in the data provided here suggests that capital funding favours academies. It may of course be more complicated than I appreciate.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/05/2014 - 06:14

Thanks, Graham. I'd missed the bit about weighting for maintenance under the heading Overall Principle.

However, about 40% of secondary schools are still not academies (although a proportion with be VA so for the sake of argument say 30% are LA community schools). It should be expected that a maintenance budget to cover 30% of secondary schools plus the bulk of primary schools would be more than it is.

But even if my argument is wrong, there is still a strong perception that funding and influence is biased in favour of academies. This was voiced in the information about academy conversion sent out by Hove Park School. The school may be wrong but it's using this argument to persuade parents to back conversion.

You're right about going mad - these funding streams are fiendishly complicated. That's why the Local Government Association is recommending a single capital pot. I shall be writing about this in a future thread.

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