Public Accounts Committee

Converting schools to academies inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Scope of the inquiry

In England, Academy schools are state-funded schools that are independent of local authorities and receive funding directly from the Department for Education. They are self-governing charitable trusts and can receive support from sponsors. As of January 2018, 35% of English state-funded schools were academies.

Since 2010 all schools have been allowed to apply for academy status. High-performing schools can choose to become academies, whilst the Government has a legal duty to convert those schools that are rated inadequate by Ofsted into academies.

A recent report by the National Audit Office found that in 2016–17 the Department for Education spent £81 million on converting schools to academies; it has spent an estimated £745 million on conversions since 2010–11. This included grants of £25,000 to schools that converted, and larger grants to the bodies sponsoring new academies. The report found that there was regional variation on the availability of sponsors for academies, with 242 academies located more than 50 miles from their sponsoring body. Further, it had taken the Department longer than expected to convert underperforming schools into academies despite consideration that they would benefit most from the change.

The Committee will ask representatives from the Department for Education whether conversions to academy schools deliver the right results for students and taxpayers, how they are addressing regional differences, and what they will do to ensure more conversion is better rolled out to underperforming schools.

Submit written evidence

If you wish to submit written evidence to this inquiry, the deadline to do so is midday on Tuesday 8 May 2018.

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