Academies are independent schools funded by the government. The nature of academies means that they have greater flexibility and freedom than state schools when making decisions on their curriculum, finances and salaries. An academy is primarily run by the Head Teacher, overseen by an academy trust.
There are currently over 4,000 academies operating across England. A huge surge came after the announcement of ‘The Academies Act’ in 2010 by the coalition government. There were just 203 academies before this act.
Earlier this year, George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to take further action by forcing all schools across England to convert into academies by the year 2020. However, following much criticism the government soon dropped the proposal.
Many believe people that academies are established to help schools perform better through additional government funding, support and guidance. Others argue that academies are simply a way to privatise schools, with some questioning whether students actually perform better academically in academies.
Findings published from a study undertaken by YouGov showed that out of 8,000 teachers surveyed, only one in five agreed that converting a school to an academy improves the education available to its students. These concerns have also been echoed by the general public.
Moreover, many educational bodies including The National Association of Head Teachers argue that ‘if a school is already performing well, why should it be turned into an academy?’
However, schools which have already made the transition into becoming an academy (historically low performing schools), can be seen to be showing improvements in their students’ academic performance. In spite of this, there has an unnoticeable impact on schools which were already performing well before converting. In addition, The Local Government Association (LGA) has stated that 86% of council maintained schools achieved a ’good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted compared to 82% of academies.
One thing which is clear is that teachers and the general public alike have mixed views on academies. Nevertheless, now that the original proposal has been discarded, schools can decide for themselves whether they think it would be best for their institution to convert into an academy.