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All Schools to Convert to Academy

by Published on

The Chancellor, George Osborne has made a clear statement of intent on behalf of the Government, to see all schools in England become academies.

The original drive to withdraw from local authority control resulted in 5,000 conversions or approximately one in every five schools.  Almost 3,000 primary schools and 2,000 secondary schools across the country converted.

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The north east is the region with the lowest number of academies and, with the exception of Darlington, been the slowest to move away from local authority control.  As of this month the region has only 189 academies with 1,100 remaining as maintained schools.

The news to drive mass conversion will be of concern to many head teachers, governors, teachers and parents especially if they had previously considered academisation and decided against the option.

The debate over the benefits of becoming an academy throw up a variety of questions but from our perspective there is only one over-arching consideration;  what are the consequences for the pupils and how will this move improve outcomes?

For early adopter academies the benefits have been seen in greater autonomy and budgetary control.  Sound management will assist in delivering greater returns for the school and as a result offer an opportunity to attract the best teaching talent.  With all schools converting this advantage is somewhat diluted and the competition for recruiting from the pool of available teachers can be expected to be fierce.

What may not be clear from Osborne’s statement is the manner in which schools will convert.  Historically schools could convert as single academies but now they will need to be joining an existing or newly created Multi Academy Trust (MAT).  MATs can be small in that they may be two or three schools or on the other end of the scale one of the huge national academy chains counting dozens of schools as members.

MATs do offer an opportunity for school’s to benefit from the economies of scale with increased purchasing power, administrative costs contained and greater resilience through the ability to draw on support from member schools.

Samuel Phillips role in the academy conversion process is to work with the schools senior management team and provide support, guidance and project co-ordination to deliver the best possible result within budget.

As a firm Samuel Phillips is an active member of the Department for Education academy converter working group.  We regularly attend meetings to discuss policy and process supporting schools that have chosen the conversion route.  As a result of our engagement with the DfE we are able to provide additional insight and guidance on financial, procedural and governance matters. April 19th Samuel Phillips will be hosting an event specifically for head teachers and business managers focussing on the new landscape for our regions schools and importance of best practice in governance.

If you are concerned about the impact of academy conversion on your school or have a question on the process or wish to attend our free event please drop me a line davidlaud@samuelphillips.co.uk

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