The “model funding agreement”
It appears that, when the Department first started setting up Academies and when the then Secretary of State first started signing Funding Agreements, each Funding Agreement (or at least large parts of the Agreement) was developed more or less from scratch.
Although the Agreements were, to some extent, based on the Agreements which had been used for City Technology Colleges, there was vary wide variation, particularly when it came to the sections (generally annexes to the main Agreement) dealing with matters such as admissions, exclusions, SEN, RE and the curriculum.
That, perhaps, reflected the fact that, in those early days, there was considerable stress on Academies being individual and varying one to another. By why should (say) the procedures for permanent exclusions vary from one Academy to another?
Not only did those early Funding Agreements vary one to another, they also generally gave pupils considerable fewer rights than those at maintained schools (regulated, as described above, by statute).
The important thing to bear in mind is that those Agreements remain in force and still apply today for those Academies unless (by agreement of the sponsor and the Secretary of State) they are varied.
So it is not possible to make any generalised comments about the detailed content of funding agreements with any confidence.
However, as the political climate changed, the Department introduced “model agreements”.
But the model changed over time.
And be aware of what role the “model” has performed:
- At any one the time then-current version was the starting point for negotiations on the detail of the contract – a template.
- That means that academies/free schools created at the same time are likely to have contracts which, in many or most respects, are the same as each other.
- But there were changes, sometimes textually small but nonetheless significant, between different versions of the model.
Very often, politicians and even civil servants gloss over all that – they talk as if the position set out in the current model was the position in all academies.
It is not – the model agreement is simply the starting framework for new academies.
So, as ever, always check the funding agreement for the particular academy/free school with which you are concerned. Don’t rely on generalisations!