What is an Academy?

Academies are independent, state-funded schools, which receive their funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority.

The day-to-day running of the school is with the head teacher or principal, but they are overseen by individual charitable bodies called academy trusts and may be part of an academy chain. These chains are called multi-academy trusts or MATs for short

These trusts and chains provide advice, support, expertise and a strategic overview.

The government argues academies drive up standards by putting more power in the hands of head teachers over pay, length of the school day and term times. They have more freedom to innovate and can opt out of the national curriculum.

The government believes that academies have been shown to improve twice as fast as other state schools. All schools - primary as well as secondary - have been invited to convert to academy status, with priority being given to the best performers. Academies, like all schools, are inspected by Ofsted, but because of changes to the inspection regime, those classed outstanding are no longer routinely inspected.

Regional School Commissioners were introduced in 2014 to approve academy conversions and monitor standards at academies and free schools in their areas.

There are eight regional commissioners, who each work with a small board of head teachers. They cover quite a large geographical area and act on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.