The majority of secondary school children are now educated at academies.
23 January 2022 12:00 AM


23 January 2022

What are academies?

In the English education system, academies are publicly-funded schools which operate independently of local authorities, doing so in a framework which the government claims is designed to promote innovation and raise school standards.

Academies have greater autonomy than traditional maintained state schools in areas such as the delivery of the curriculum, setting staff pay and conditions, changing the length of the school terms and the school day, and determining their own uniform policies.

An academy trust that runs more than one academy is called a multi academy trust (MAT). Member schools operate under a single governance structure. Roughly two-thirds of academies are part of multi-academy trusts. The majority of multi academy trusts oversee five schools of fewer, but around 30 multi academy trusts oversee 26 schools or more.

In January 2019, nearly 3.8 million pupils attended academies and free schools in England, equating to 72.3% of secondary pupils and 29.7% of primary pupils.

The majority of secondary school children are now educated at academies.

Types of academies

Academy schools come in a variety of different forms, albeit a distinction can be made between existing schools that move to academy status, and entirely new schools (free schools).

Existing Schools – Academies
Most academies are existing schools that have converted from a previously maintained status (under the auspices of the local education authority).

Sponsored academies have usually been set up to replace under-performing schools. Sponsors are responsible for establishing the academy trust, the governing body, and for appointing the head teacher. Sponsors can come from a wide variety of backgrounds including businesses, faith communities, universities and individual philanthropists. Outstanding schools and academies may now also become sponsors themselves.

Converter academies are successful schools that have chosen to convert to academies in order to benefit from the increased autonomy that academy status is said to bring. This option was introduced in 2010 as part of the then Coalition government’s plan to broaden the academy programme.

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