When the Henrietta Barnett School in north London became an academy, it wrote to parents saying this would give the school “greater access to financial resources”. The story is a familiar one.
The business manager of a London secondary school told the Financial Times: “When we converted, we worked out exactly how much it was worth to us. We estimated that, all in, we could run a £750,000 surplus on becoming an academy. That’s a lot of building repairs.”
This is a big part of the coalition’s academy success story. Five times as many schools have joined the scheme as were expected, including half of all state secondaries. The Department for Education encouraged this change through accidental overfunding.
It was intended that schools would become academies because of the legal benefits: they have exemptions from the national curriculum and teachers’ pay arrangements, which should give them flexibility to be more innovative. The intention was to attract schools with extra rights not extra money.