What are academy schools in the United Kingdom?

Academy schools in the UK

The term academy is one which is being used with more and more regularity in relation to the school system in England and Wales with many more schools achieving so called academy status.

What is meant by an academy in the school system in the UK?

Academies are state-maintained independent schools which are set up with the help of outside sponsors.

When were they first established in the UK?

Academies were first established in 2000 with the notion that they would drive up standards by replacing schools which were failing and were located in struggling education authorities.

I thought they were referred to as city academies originally?

Originally they were referred to as city academies as they were initially aimed at schools that were failing in inner city areas. However, the word “city” was dropped in order to enable schools in struggling rural areas as well as inner city areas to become academies.

How are academies  in the UK funded?

Initially the school has to raise £2million in order to become an academy.

How will this money be raised?

In most cases this money is raised from private organisations such as business, faith or voluntary groups. Also some money will be provided for by universities.

How much money will be contributed by the Government?

In most cases the Government will contribute around about £25million.

Who will undertake the running of the school?

The private organisation will run the school outside of the local education authority’s (LEA) funding control but still will operate within all the national requirements for curriculum and standards.

What role will the sponsors play in the running of the academy?

The sponsors will often challenge traditional thinking on how schools are run and what the experience of them should be like for students. In many cases the sponsors may seek to make a complete break from the previous culture experienced of low aspiration which may affect many schools and local communities in the UK.

In many cases this is one of the main reasons behind the academy system with the Government encouraging this to develop by leaving the running of the academies in their hands.

The establishment of an endowment fund

When the academy is first established the sponsors will set up an endowment fund of which the proceeds are spent by the academy trust on measures to counteract the impact of deprivation on education in their local communities.

What involvement does the local authority have in the creation of an academy?

When an academy is first set up this will be done with the backing of the local authority. However, academies are not maintained by the local authority but there will the academy will have a close collaboration with the local authority and the other schools in the area.

Despite this will the local authority still have a seat on the academy’s governing body?

A local authority will still have a seat on the academy’s governing body and in relation to academy’s that are co-sponsored by the local authority will have two seats on the governing body.

Which individuals will have the responsibility for managing the academy?

Both the governing body and the head teacher will have the responsibility for managing the academy.

Who will appoint the governors?

In order to determine the ethos and leadership of the academy ensuring they maintain clear responsibility and accountability the private sector or charitable sponsor will always appoint the majority of the governors.

Will this be the case even when a local authority is acting as a co-sponsor?

This will still remain the case even when a local authority is acting as a co-sponsor.

How many governors will sit on an Academy Governing Body?

There are not a prescribed number of governors on an Academy Governing Body however; the standard expectation for this is that it will be relatively small.

Are all academies different?

All academies throughout the UK will be different and unique to that particular academy, despite still having to follow the national curriculum. The reason for this is that each programme is focused on fitting that particular academy into its individual community and circumstances.