Academies Sector Annual Report and Accounts 2019/20 – Report Summary

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Author: Committee of Public Accounts

Related inquiry: Academies Sector Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20

Date Published: 25 March 2022

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Some 43% of state-funded schools now operate as academies, educating over half of pupils in England across over 2,700 academy trusts. The Department for Education aims for all state-funded schools to become part of a family of academy trusts. The Department however has not set out a clear plan for how it will achieve this, nor how it will ensure that those trusts are being set up to best support pupils and local need.

We remain concerned over the Department’s understanding of the school estate, particularly how it knows whether pupils have access to facilities that support learning, and the continuing threat to the health of pupils from asbestos in school buildings.

The Department has taken action to address our previous recommendations to enhance the usefulness of the Academy Sector Annual Report and Accounts (SARA) to readers. The oversight function of the Education & Skills Funding Agency has continued to develop since we previously reported on the SARA. However, we remain concerned over the accessibility of local academy financial information. Multi academy trusts are not required to publish accounts for each academy in the trust. This lack of transparency is detrimental to parents’ ability to hold their local academy leaders, and the Department, to account for the services they provide to pupils and their use of public funds.