‘Power struggle’ between academy CEOs and heads thwarts chain growth

The TES is reporting that a ‘power struggle’ between academy chain leaders and their headteachers is thwarting the government’s policy to push more schools to join multi-academy trusts, new research suggests.

According to the report, published by the thinktank Reform, just 20 per cent of academy chains have full control of all of their academies’ finances, which is resulting in a “power struggle” between MAT chief executives and their heads.

Giving money directly to trusts, the report states, would mean the CEO and the chain would “more formally be regarded as the employer of all staff in the school, as it already legally is”.

The report also finds:

  • Many academy chains are unwilling to take on “struggling schools” due to concerns about schools with poor finances, with small pupil rolls and those in remote areas. This is despite MATs wanting to expand;
  • More than a third of chains have declined requests to take on more schools;
  • Most chains report being too small to achieve financial efficiencies;
  • The right to approve academies should be taken away from the Department of Education and given to an independent body;
  • The government should allow maintained schools and academies to pay local governors;
  • The DfE should create an online sponsor forum to enable academy chains to swap their schools.

The survey found that most chain leaders believe a MAT needs at least 10 schools if it is to achieve financial efficiencies, but the vast majority run between just two and five.  

Amy Finch, head of education at Reform and co-author of the report, said: “The current system for funding academy chain growth is a mess. The government could do better by pooling the many funding streams it runs into one struggling school premium which, on top of per-pupil funding, would encourage the best chains to take on schools in difficulties.” 

More at: ‘Power struggle’ between academy CEOs and heads thwarts chain growth

Do you think the trusts should be given the money for the schools directly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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Categories: 1st POST and Academies.


  1. Nairb1

    So the unraveling shambles is now causing financial problems. That’ll lead to action because there’s no profit /massive CEO salaries if too much money has to be spent on educating the pupils.
    Schools which fell for the ‘increased autonomy’ and ‘freedom from council control’ lies are now seeing some pretty heavy chickens coming home to roost. ‘Power struggle’ between CEOs and headteachers over school budgets. Welcome to the magnificent world of Academy autonomy.

  2. Love this recommendation: ‘The DfE should create an online sponsor forum to enable academy chains to swap their schools.’
    Treating the transfer of academies as musical chairs is ludicrous.  It could degenerate into a game of cards: ‘I’ll swap you two Good primaries for your one Good secondary’ or ‘If you take on this Inadequate secondary, I’ll throw in an Outstanding one’.
    Swapping academies costs taxpayers money in rebrokerage fees.  It can also cost parents in new uniforms etc.  And taxpayers’ money is also wasted in new branding.

  3. The report says it’s a problem that ‘academy chains are not
    routinely granted enough financial autonomy over their academies’.  That’s not true because academy trusts already decide how to allocate budgets to individual academies.  Academies in chains can enjoy less freedom than LA maintained schools because the amount of freedom they receive is in the gift of academy trustees. In contrast,  LA maintained schools give up a small part of their budget to pay for necessary legal and administrative tasks and are free to spend the bulk of their budgets as they wish.  They can get on with the task of educating pupils without interference from head office.

  4. VictoriaJaquiss

    Making it hard for academy chains to explain. Always a silver lining! Academies are only about money. The name “academy” is deliberately misleading. See Janet’s comment below for a proper answer.

  5. gov2

    CCS_edu SchoolsImprove  “CCS can support their procurement “.  wonderful news!  The Government can help schools to ignore education and become profit centres attractive to edu-businesses.  Thanks for making that clear.

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