The roll-out of academies across England in the two years between April 2010 and March 2012 has resulted in an estimated £1 billion of additional costs at the Department for Education, according to the National Audit Office.
Its latest report into the academies expansion programme indicated that there has now been a fundamental change in the nature of the national school system, with a ten-fold increase in the number of academies opening since May 2010.
Conversion into academies has a significant impact on teaching jobs, as educators are no longer paid by their local authority, but the by the school and its sponsors.
Conditions will also no longer be managed centrally, although teachers who transfer from predecessor schools replaced by an academy are covered by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations 2006, which ensure that their previous pay and conditions entitlements transfer with them.
This not only includes statutory provisions on pay, but professional duties, working time and local agreement on conditions of service, as well as redundancy payments. If, however, the academy is a new institution, then all teachers will be considered newly appointed and will not be covered by the TUPE regulations.
By September 2012, it is estimated that 2,309 academies had opened, up from just 203 in May 2010. The vast majority of these have converted to academy status from existing schools, with the greater financial freedoms one of the main attractions.
The DfE has also been keen to encourage good schools to convert, while placing significant pressure on under-performing schools to find a sponsor and become an academy.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today: "It is too early to conclude on academies' overall performance, and this is something I intend to return to in the future. As the programme continues to expand, the Department must build on its efforts to reduce costs and tackle accountability concerns if it is to reduce the risks to value for money."
Posted by Alan Douglas