“Academy schools in England recorded a £6.1bn deficit at the end of last August, leading to one major teaching union calling them “unsustainable”.
The 7,003 academies received total income of £22.5bn in 2016-17, compared to £20.5bn in the academic financial year before, and spent £24.8bn, compared to £20bn in 2015-16, according to the academy schools annual report and accounts released on Tuesday.
The £6.1bn deficit recorded includes an £8.4bn asset derecognition charge. The government took land and buildings assets off academies’ balance sheets where they did not feel trusts were controlling them, even though, academies continued to occupy them.
The number of academy trusts, charities which academies must be part of, in cumulative deficit at the end of August 2017 went up to 185 from 167 in August 2016, the report showed.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said academies’ financial situation was “unsurprising” given the overall pressures on school budgets. “But it is particularly serious for academies which cannot call on help or support from the local authorities,” he added.
“These accounts also show us why the academy system is unsustainable and undemocratic.”
Academies are independent state schools funded directly by the Department for Education via the Education and Skills Funding Agency – rather than through local authorities.
Courtney said it was “high time” the government recognised the academy system was a “failed policy” that needed to be consigned to the “dustbin of history”.
“We need to return to the principle of local schools, accountable to local communities,” he added.
The accounts also showed that 8% more trusts (from 873 to 941) were paying some staff £100,000 or more in 2016-17 compared to the year before.
The number of staff paying salaries of £150,000 or more went up 3% from 121 to 125 over the same period. …”