academies general thoughts

Free School meals implementation adds new complexity to Funding Agreements

Behind the political controversy over the Government’s policy of compulsory free school for all under 7′s lies the latest new complexity for the legal structures and the  funding agreements for academies and free schools. Funding agreements are already supplemented by freestanding obligations in legislation, such as applying the Freedom of Information Act to academies/free schools,…

Government extends requirement to teach evolution and banning of pseudoscience to future Academies

This is all from the British Humanist Association: “The Government has revised the single Academies model funding agreement to bring it in line with the Free Schools model funding agreement in preventing Academies from teaching pseudoscience and to require the teaching of evolution. The changes, which will apply to stand-alone Academies opening from today onwards,…

Children and Families Act 2014 gets Royal Assent

What was previously the Children and Families Bill was given Royal Assent on 13 March 2014. It has been substantially amended in the course of the parliamentary process but, as I reported earlier, it will finally bring academies into line with maintained schools when it comes to Part 4 of a Statement of SEN. More…

How have the legal structures for schools become so complicated, does it matter, and what could be done about it?

The Education Law Journal has kindly published the following article in which I reflected on how changes to the legal arrangements for schools have left us with something which can barely be described as a school ‘system’, which is storing up lots of governance problems for the future, which leaves local authorities with obligations but…

Academies breach their funding agreements

MP John Healey put down the following Parliamentary Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Education which academies, from which academy groups, have breached their funding agreements since May 2010; when each such breach occurred; and what the reasons for each such breach were. On 25 April 2013 Secretary of State Michael Gove gave…

conversion to becoming a “sponsored academy” – what does it mean?

The Department uses words like “partner” to describe the relationship between a school and its “sponsor” but that seems very misleading to me. As indeed does the word “sponsor”. I recently attended a presentation given by one of the Department’s “Academy Brokers” – apparently employed (or engaged – I am not sure whether he was…

How much do academies use their legal ‘freedoms’ in practice

See pages 44 and onwards in the Pearson Commission report on academies here. The report identifies the following ‘freedoms’: set their own curriculum, subject to teaching a broad and balanced curriculum that includes English, mathematics, science and religious education set the length of their school day and term appoint their own staff and set their…

No longer a presumption that new schools will be academies?

The legal presumption that new schools should academies is in tatters after a court judgment given on 14 December 2012. On 16 November 2012, the British Humanist Association (BHA) and Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) learnt that they had lost their legal challenge to Richmond’s decision to give the go ahead a Catholic Voluntary Aided…