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Schools in meltdown: Pros and cons of academies
9:00am Monday 14th January 2013 in Countywide
Freedoms over budget mean that academies can direct resources to where they feel their priorities are.
They can also ‘shop around’ to find the best deals for services, or opt to buy back from the local authority.
There is additional money available for set-up costs and more funding to cover the costs of services the local authority no longer provides.
In sponsored academies, the idea is a fresh start with a sponsor holding the school to account to help drive up standards.
The power to set staff pay and conditions could allow schools to offer pay incentives to attract and keep high quality staff.
As owner and manager of the buildings and grounds, there is more opportunity for the school to sell or rent parts of the site to raise income.
The additional funding for services no longer provided through the local authority may not cover the additional costs.
Academies are forbidden to operate at a deficit which could have an impact on staffing and resources if the predecessor school has historically carried over a deficit.
Academies become liable for central staffing costs such as maternity cover, trade union cover, long-term sickness and for terminating employment.
If academies outnumber schools, it affects the viability of the services the local authority provides to maintained schools.
More responsibility falls on the governing body and sponsor, if there is one.
Academy schools are accountable to their governors, their sponsors and the Education Secretary, rather than to the local authority, which some feel erodes local accountability.
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