What about the ‘model funding agreement’?

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!

  3 comments for “What about the ‘model funding agreement’?

  1. Joseph Reynolds
    March 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Having looked at several academy funding agreements, I note that some of the older ones establish a 58b clause in Annex A, where original elected parent governors will continue on in that capacity. Later academies seem to have abandoned that clause: why bother when you can consolidate all your power without anyone being able to do anything about it.

    Our school has become an academy. We used to have 7 elected parent governors out of 20. Now we have 2 elected governors out of 20. This is a severe drop in clout. We parents have been pushed aside. Surely, the spirit of the law has been scuppered. The ‘there must be 2 parent governors’ clause was surely there for small bodies. But now they have just stacked the court, so to speak. No more parents. What can we do? Is there any legal or regulatory framework, or even a guideline? Or even a letter proposing that academies maintain parent governor levels? Anything?

  2. DW
    March 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    When you refer to “the spirit of the law” you presumably have in mind the law which specifies how governing bodies should be made up. The problem is that the law in question applies only to maintained schools. It does not apply to academies. When it comes to academies, the only constraint (on governing body composition) is the funding agreement. If the funding agreement only requires two parents then that is all that is required. At the point when the governing body of a maintained school is thinking of converting, they could insist that the funding agreement into which they enter keeps a properr mix of governors (parents, teachers, etc) rather than reducing the number of parents and teachers. I don’t know how the Department would react to that. But at least the governors would be doing their bit to keep parents properly represented in the new academy.

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