Lack of local authority support forcing more schools to form academy trusts

Lack of local authority support forcing more schools to form academy trusts

As the support from local councils continues to shrink, many primary schools in the UK are opting to form academy trusts. With council aid gradually dwindling over time, schools seem to have no choice but to seek alternative support.

A recent analysis found that proposed academy chains, consisting of up to 13 schools, have identified the diminishing support from local councils as a key reason for their decision to become academies.

On average, nearly half of all schools in the UK are now academies. Speaking with online publication Schools Week, Academy Conversion Consultant Jeff Marshall has stated that once 40 per cent of schools within a district convert to academies, the local authority’s relationship with schools changes from a supportive body to a service provider.

Many local authorities have voiced that they lack the staff capacity to support school improvement beyond their statutory responsibilities. In response, a growing number of schools are choosing to join a trust.

Despite these claims, some local councils like South Gloucestershire Council maintain they have not made significant changes to their capacity to support schools in recent years.

They insist that they are working closely with all schools to understand their preference for conversion or maintaining local authority control.

However, schools have started seeking support from existing trusts due to the reduced staff capacity at councils. In some cases, schools are pooling resources to afford council HR advice, with some expected to halve the cost by sourcing from alternative providers.

As councils are forced to trim their service-level agreements (detailed service provisions to schools), schools are seeking their own agreements. The cost of council services has increased over time, but the quality, schools argue, has decreased.

In essence, as the £50 million-a-year Government grant for local authority school improvement activities was withdrawn this year, councils are now expected to slice from school budgets to fund such work.

In the face of these changes, it’s becoming increasingly clear why more and more UK schools are turning to the academy trust model for support.

Contact Haslers for advice.


Lack of local authority support forcing more schools to form academy trusts