Your Guide to Selling to Academy Schools
Academy schools continue to be big news in education right now – and they provide great opportunities for education suppliers.
It’s fair to say that they have been the big news since their inception in 2010, when the first 203 academy schools opened their doors.
Since then, the number of academy schools has exploded to its current total (as of August 2017) of 6,109. This is good news for organisations that are selling to schools.
Take a look at our Guide to Academy Schools to see how and when this growth took place.
So, before we talk about the big plan to make all schools into academy schools, a few facts about what an academy school is and what makes them different;
- Academy schools are found in England only.
- Academy schools have greater autonomy from the Local Authority. They are still funded in the same way as all other schools, but are no longer obliged to ‘buy in’ services provided by the Local Authority. This means, for example, they can source their own HR services, legal services, catering services and so on.
- Academy schools can make their own decisions on key functional areas such as term dates and staff pay. They can even adapt the National Curriculum to suit the requirements of their students – although for balance we should make clear that they are still subject to the same national tests such as SATs and GCSEs so it is in the interests of the school not to veer too far from the National Curriculum guidelines.
- Academy schools are run by charitable trusts. This could be a Multi Academy trust, where there are multiple academy schools under the umbrella of one trust (the Hariss Federation, for example, runs 28 schools) or it could a charitable trust overseeing the work of one school. In turn, there are various bodies that these trusts are accountable to (Charities commission, OFSTED, regional schools commissioners and so on).
As mentioned earlier, academy schools are big news at the moment, following the Budget announcement by George Osborne that all schools in England will either have to convert to become an academy school by 2020 or be committed to converting by 2022. As of May 2016, the Government decided to reverse this decision, meaning schools will no longer be under pressure to become an academy school if they don’t want to.
Despite this, it seems likely that many will continue to follow the conversion route. Indeed, there are currently 1,299 schools in the pipeline to become academies so the opportunities for education suppliers to start selling to academy schools remain despite this decision.