education sponsorship


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Sponsorship and academies

Academies are independent, all ability schools in England which are run by an academy trust, ie a company limited by guarantee, set up by a sponsor. Sponsors - individuals or organisations - come from business, voluntary or faith groups.  

On a day-to-day basis, academies operate independently of national or local government. This aspect of the academy system is intended to provide schools with the freedom to make the best decisions for their individual circumstances. With effect from November 2010, all schools in England have been eligible to apply for academy status.

Sponsors are tasked with establishing the academy trust and it is this body that runs the academy and that is ultimately responsible for ensuring that it fulfils its legal obligations and delivers on its contractual commitments.

The government has put in place a system of grant funding for academies - the General Annual Grant (GAG) paid by the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA).

Detailed information about current funding arrangements and consultations may be found via this and other pages of the Department of Education's website: Academy Funding.

The influence of sponsors on the running of academies have been the subject of much controversy.

For an investment of 10% of the academy's capital (to a maximum of 2 million), sponsors can influence key aspects of the nature of the academy, including its curriculum, the make up of the board of governors and the school's specialism(s), if any.


Critics have often focussed on the role of sponsors, claiming, for instance, that academies are effectively an underhand means of bringing in privatisation of parts of the state school system.

They point to various examples of serious failings in academic results. But supporters list other examples where failing schools have been turned into shining examples of academic excellence.

Prior to the development of the current academies system, City academies were set up in 2000, under the Labour government. The forerunners of city academies were City Technology Colleges, sponsored by businesses, set up under Margaret Thatcher's government in the 1980s.

Useful link: Academy sponsor
Contains information about the role of academy sponsors in turning around underperforming schools and information on how to get involved in the academies programme as a sponsor.

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