Academies are all-ability, state-funded schools established and managed by sponsors from a wide range of backgrounds, including high performing schools and colleges, universities, individual philanthropists, businesses, the voluntary sector, and the faith communities. Some are established educational providers, and all of them bring a record of success in other enterprises which they are able to apply to their Academies in partnership with experienced school managers.
Sponsors challenge traditional thinking on how schools are run and what they should be like for students. They seek to make a complete break with cultures of low aspiration which afflict too many communities and their schools. We want this to happen, which is why we entrust the governance of academies to them. On establishing an academy, the sponsor sets up an endowment fund, the proceeds of which are spent by the academy trust on measures to counteract the impact of deprivation on education in their local communities.
Academies are set up with the backing of their local authority, which also has a seat of the academy's governing body - academies that are co-sponsored by their local authority will have two seats on the Governing Body. Academies are not maintained by the local authority, but they collaborate closely with it, and with other schools in the area. Academies are funded at a level comparable to other local schools in their area.
The governing body and the principal have responsibility for managing the academy. In order to determine the ethos and leadership of the academy, and ensure clear responsibility and accountability, the private sector or charitable sponsor always appoints the majority of the governors. This is the case even when a local authority is acting as a co-sponsor for wider purposes. The number of governors on an Academy governing body is not prescribed, but the expectation is for the body to be relatively small.
All Academies are bound by the same School Admissions Code, SEN Code of Practice and exclusions guidance as all other state-funded schools. All new Academies are also required to follow the National Curriculum programmes of study in English, maths, science and ICT. All academies - like the large majority of secondary schools - have specialist school status, and have a specialism in one or more subjects.
Each academy is unique. Because of the programme's focus on fitting each academy to its community and circumstances, their success has been sustained as the programme has expanded - and there is every reason to believe that this will continue to be the case.