Chains vs stand alone academies – is there a difference?

The short answer is that, in a chain/multi academy, the company which runs the chain is in charge and it is that company which has to ensure that the ‘local governing body’ complies with the funding agreement etc.

The Department has created two structures for academies:

  • what the Department calls ‘standalone’ academies – they appear to be freestanding institutions with a single funding agreement between the sponsor/governing body and the Secretary of State
  • what the Department calls ‘multi’ academies or ‘chains’ where there are several individual academies run by the same company. Here the funding agreement is with the company but, as explained in the post on funding agreements, it comprises a ‘master’ agreement (which is common to all academies in the chain) and ‘supplemental’ agreements for each individual academy. Be aware then that you need to look at both to work out the legal position in the academy with which you are concerned.

With a multi-academy the structure which the agreements set up seems generally, and perhaps universally, to place the company in overall charge of all academies in the chain; and make it responsible for ensuring that what is called ‘local governing body’ complies with the funding agreement etc. As the chains get bigger, that obviously raises a question about quite how independent each academy in the chain actually is. It may also make it harder for parents, pupils and others trying to establish and assert their rights to do that.

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