Over 80 per cent of schools claim they would be able to provide a better quality of education if they were given greater freedom over managing their budgets, new research has found.

A study by HCSS Education, a leading education finance specialist, has found that 82% of schools think that more independence to make financial decisions would help to raise teaching standards across the board and reduce the attainment gap.

As a result, 41% of schools are interested in converting to academy status because it will provide them with full financial responsibility so they are able to effectively manage procurement and spend their budget in the best way possible. Another 35% of schools also believed that more money would become available to them if they became an academy. This could also help contribute to a higher standard of education, as it could be spent on providing students with better facilities and teaching materials.

However not all schools think that academisation is the solution, with over half of maintained schools (59%) saying they did not want their schools to become an academy. These findings suggest that while they want greater freedom over managing the budget, they would prefer not to convert to an academy to achieve this.

As part of the survey, academies were also surveyed on the reasons why they decided to make the change and when asked what their main reasons for converting to academy status were, a significant 65 per cent cited greater control over finances as a key consideration.

The survey was conducted as part of HCSS Education’s Academy Futures report, which takes an insightful look into how the education landscape is changing and the impact academisationis having on both teachers and parents. It explores the barriers to conversion, the challenges schools may face when they first convert, and how these issues can be addressed.

Howard Jackson, head of education and founder of HCSS Education, said: “Our survey reveals that a very large proportion of maintained schools (82%) are calling out for much greater independence to manage their own budgets, as they believe that this will help to raise the standards across the board.

“As it stands, it is only schools that have converted to an academy that are given complete control over the budget, as maintained schools’ finances are still overseen by the local authority. For one reason or another, the academy model is not right for every individual school, but the problem lies in the fact that maintained schools are not given the same freedom that academy schools have, unless they decide to convert.

“With this in mind, it seems that schools would be wise to try to work towards a solution with the local authorities to gain more influence over their budgets, as it seems this is in the best interests of both the staff and students.”


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