Academies – Overpayment by 120 Million pounds
There is plenty of evidence that the reason why so many schools have converted to Academies is because of the extra funding.
According to the Financial Times , May 8 2012 ,
Schools taking part in the government’s flagship academies programme are being overpaid by more than £120m this academic year owing to errors by the Department for Education, an investigation by the Financial Times has revealed.
The majority of the overspend will be clawed back from local authorities, stoking concerns that schools participating in the converter academies scheme are being favoured over other state schools. They gain autonomy over pay and curriculum, but are supposed to receive equivalent funding.
Analysis of DfE data reveals that 90 per cent of England’s 1,421 converter academy schools are being overpaid, with the bulk of the errors coming from schools which converted in the previous academic year.
These include the Tollbar Academy in North East Lincolnshire, which received a £697,000 overpayment in 2011-12, and the Gable Hall School in Thurrock, Essex, which was paid £665,000 more than it should have received – equivalent to the basic average wage cost of 17 teachers.
And the money these schools are receiving are at the expense of other schools. It’s a Catch 22 situation, whether schools want to convert or not, they are forced to for financial reasons.
David Simmonds, head of the Local Government Association education board, said the DfE’s estimation methods had not accounted for “the biggest reduction in local authority funding in recent times”, and were using data collected “for a purpose for which they were not designed”. The formula for calculating grants bore “no relation to reality”, he said.
In fact, the extra money is so attractive, the number of schools converting is even exceeding the government’s own estimates.
The government expected about 400 schools to have converted by this point, but 830 converted in the previous academic year, followed by 591 in the current year.
Mr Simmonds, who is also the Conservative councillor in charge of schools in the London borough of Hillingdon, recommended that schools in his borough should convert to claim the extra cash because the money would be “clawed back from the local authority whether they became academies or not”.
A recent survey by the Schools Network and Reform, a think tank, found that 78 per cent of academy heads cited “additional money” as a reason to convert.
Reference and Further Reading
Please also refer to Think Left’s article