Academies are publicly-funded independent schools that provide a first-class education.

What’s different about academies?


Academies benefit from greater freedoms to innovate and raise standards. These include:

  • freedom from local authority control;
  • the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff;
  • freedoms around the delivery of the curriculum; and
  • the ability to change the lengths of terms and school days.


Some academies, generally those set up to replace underperforming schools, will have a sponsor. Sponsors come from a wide range of backgrounds including successful schools, businesses, universities, charities and faith bodies. Sponsors are held accountable for the improving the performance of their schools. They do this by challenging traditional thinking on how schools are run and what they should be like for students. They seek to make a complete break with cultures of low aspiration and achievement. The sponsor’s vision and leadership are vital to each project.


Academies receive the same level of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the local authority as a maintained school, plus additions to cover the services that are no longer provided for them by the local authority. However, academies have greater freedom over how they use their budgets to best benefit their students.

Academies receive their funding directly from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) rather than from local authorities.


The principles of governance are the same in academies as in maintained schools, but the governing body has greater autonomy. Academies are required to have at least two parent governors.

… and what’s the same

Admissions, special educational needs and exclusions

Academies are required to follow the law and guidance on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as if they were maintained schools.


Academies have to ensure that the school will be at the heart of its community, collaborating and sharing facilities and expertise with other schools and the wider community.

We expect all schools that are performing well and applying for academy status to work with another school to raise standards. Collaboration and partnership are now embedded in the school system, and this is also the case for academies.


Schools which already select some or all of their pupils will be able to continue to do so if they become academies, but schools becoming academies cannot decide to become newly selective schools.

Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (2000) applies to academies as it does to maintained schools.