Academies boss: Maintained-school headteachers have more freedom than those in academy chains

The TES is reporting that the leader of the country’s largest academy chain has said that headteachers of maintained schools have more freedom and autonomy than their peers at schools in multi-academy trusts…

Ian Comfort, who runs the Academies Enterprise Trust, said heads had to “give up their sovereignty” when their school joined a multi-academy trust.

Heads at maintained schools had greater freedoms in important areas such as teachers’ pay and pupil numbers, and were subject to less external scrutiny, he added. 

“A headteacher that joins a multi academy trust really has given up a lot of direct control over their own school,” he told TES…

Mr Comfort said, however, that being part of a multi-academy trust brought “huge benefits”.

“You’ve got the ability to work across the group [and] gain expertise from across the group,” he told TES. “You can share resources and, if the trust is run correctly, there are huge benefits of working together and collaborating…”

More at: Academies boss: Maintained-school headteachers have more freedom than those in academy chains


Interesting perspective – is there something to these comments from Ian Comfort? 

Does being part of a multi-academy chain come with a high price in terms of freedom and extra outside scrutiny?

Please tell us how you see it in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Academies and Leadership.


  1. TW

    “there are huge benefits of working together and collaborating”

    But not as many or as huge as offered by local authorities.

  2. In 2011, John Burn OBE told the Education Bill Committee that academies could end up with less freedom than when they were LA schools.
    Since then other bodies, including the Academies Commission and the Education Select Committee, have heard evidence from heads in academy trusts saying they had less freedom than before they became academies.
    Comfort is complaining about having to comply with EFA rulings.  But this is only to be expected as academy trusts receive public money and can’t just spend it in unapproved ways as AET and others have been doing.  Whether the EFA can provide adequate oversight of 5,000+ academies is debatable as it’s expected to cut costs at the same time as take over more work.
    But equally serious is the control academy trusts exert over their academies which, as noted above, can be far more than was ever exerted over LA maintained schools.

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove In truth no schools have freedoms beyond rewarding favourites as state funded schools bound by politically driven curriculum

  4. TW

    MadgeJesss SchoolsImprove  No, heads in Academies are subject to a lot more detailed controlled than in normal schools.  Some academy HTs may not yet have understood what they have got themselves into but they are in for a shock as and when the acdemisation programme gets to be fully established.

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