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schools ‘bribed’ to become academies?

13 February 2013

Reports today criticise the DfE for offering “bribes” of up to £65,000 to ‘failing’ schools who agree to become academies. However, this interpretation is not quite right.

Where a school is deemed to be underperforming, they may be required to become a sponsored academy. Sponsors (not schools) are able to claim £25,000 towards the costs of the academy conversion and a further £40,000 where “this is needed to plan for and start to implement action to transform the underperforming school”.

It is right that schools in need of improvement should have the support and resources to do so. Clearly, the DfE is keen to channel improvement via its academy programme. However, schools are increasingly resisting forced academisation, particularly with sponsors not of their choosing.

If the £65,000 is considered a “bribe”, then it is one directed towards sponsors to encourage them to take on schools that have often resisted being academised or sponsored by them in the first place.

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