Academy transfer costs rise to £30m+ as 307 more academies are rebrokered

Janet Downs's picture

The total cost of transferring academies from one trust to another now totals £31m, newly released Department for Education data reveals.

307 academies transferred in the financial year 2018/19 including academies from notorious academy trusts Bright Tribe, Perry Beeches, Durand Academy and The SchoolsCompany.

183 transfers were initiated by the outgoing trust; 67 were because the sponsor closed and 57 were due to ‘intervention’ from the DfE.

227 of the rebrokered academies were transferred with no grant funding (aka ‘transfer fees’).  80 academies transferred with grant funding.

I haven’t looked in detail at the actual amounts yet.  I’ll do so shortly.  But Schools Week points out:

‘Two payments of £250,000 in grant funding were handed out this year – the highest amount. REAch South academy trust received the money to takeover UTC Plymouth, with the school moving in October 2018, while Core Education Trust was also handed £250,000 this year after taking over Arena Academy from the Perry Beeches Academy Trust in 2017-18. The trust was also given £150,000 last year.’

The grant funding given by the DfE does not cover all transfer costs.  This means the actual cost of rebrokerage is likely to be higher.  Funding excluded from the data includes deficit payments, diseconomies of scale, capital costs and statutory redundancies.  These are likely to be considerable.

It should be remembered that the DfE tried hard to prevent the public knowing how much academy transfers cost.  It took months of lobbying by Schools Week and this site followed by a court case before the DfE published the costs of transferring 23 academies which changed hands between September 2013 and October 2014. 

This first publication was followed by much foot-dragging before the DfE decided to publish the figures annually.  But not before Lord Nash, then schools minister, had suggested the figures be hidden in a larger data set to avoid the true cost being known, a Schools Week investigation found.

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