NAO looks at value for money of academy conversions
March 9, 2018
The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a new report on the conversion of maintained schools into academies in England.
The report sets out a wide range of findings on the academy system to date, and estimates that the conversion of almost 7,000 schools has cost roughly £745 million since 2010-11. While most have been high performing schools that have converted straightforwardly, there have been delays in conversion of some underperforming schools. The NAO suggest that challenges around the conversion of schools into academies are likely to increase in future, with many small primary schools still in the maintained sector and variable capacity among trusts in different parts of the country.
The NAO recommend that:
the Department for Education (DfE) should articulate its vision for the school system now that it is not expecting all schools to convert to academy status by 2022
the DfE should apply stronger tests of financial risks and due diligence to all academies, ensuring that all trustees and senior leaders are “fit and proper persons”
the DfE and Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) should improve sharing of information and expertise
the DfE should speed up the conversion of ‘inadequate’ schools, which is taking more than nine months in two-thirds of cases
the DfE should improve its understanding of why trusts might choose not to take on more schools and use this to develop capacity in areas of need
The NAO conclude that creating coherence in the school system “will be crucial to secure value for money and provide children with access to good end-to-end schooling”.