The past five years has seen a sea change in the education landscape, as the number of schools converting to an academy has steadily increased. There are now more than 3,500 academies and some people may be surprised to learn that most of those are primary schools.
In percentage terms, though, primary schools are lagging way behind the secondaries. Well over half of all secondary schools are now academies, whilst only around 15% of primary schools have taken the plunge.
As a result, there is now a push from Government to encourage more primary schools to convert.
Recognising that many individual primary schools may feel that they do not have the in-house skills or governor support to contemplate a conversion to academy status, schools are being encouraged to convert in groups of 3!
The DFE recently launched a new grant aimed at potential primary convertors. The grant is called “Primary academy chain development grant”, which is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s certainly worth a look.
If three primary schools are looking to convert together and form a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), they are eligible for a grant of £75,000 to cover costs of conversion, etc. An existing standalone academy can also claim the £75,000 if it can find at least two primary schools to join it.
There are additional grants for small primary schools (fewer than 210 pupils).
It is clear that the academy programme is here to stay and primaries represent a large number of potential convertors, so we expect the ‘encouragement’ to continue. Please contact us if you are at an early stage and need some advice.