by political editor Paul Francis
More than one in three secondary schools in Kent have
joined the rush to become independent academies, new figures
The Department for Education has released data revealing
that 39 of the county’s 101 secondary schools are already new-style
academies or are expected to be within months.
The bulk of them are schools that are among some of the
best in the county and have been rated either outstanding or good
by Ofsted - raising fresh fears about the consequences for Kent
Education chiefs say they are relaxed about the number
breaking away but there are concerns the county council could end
up with less money to support schools who are left. Those schools
could be among those who are considered to be
As academies, schools can keep money they would previously
have handed to KCC for county-wide support services.
In the case of a large secondary school, that could be
between £250,000 and £350,000 a year.
Hohler, KCC cabinet member for education, said the numbers meant
the authority would have a different role and was developing plans
to set up a commercial arm to sell back services to schools in Kent
"We are really happy about the situation. Nearly all
schools are saying they are becoming academies for financial
reasons, which we understand. It will be our challenge to get
schools to buy our services back."
The enthusiasm to become academies among primary schools
appears more muted, with just 14 of Kent’s 449 applying for or who
have been granted academy status.
Education secretary Michael Gove said:
"A third of secondary schools are now either an academy or
have started on the road to conversion. This represents a
fundamental shift in power away from government and towards
teachers. Teachers, not politicians or bureaucrats, know best how
to run schools. Schools want the freedom to decide what is best for
their pupils. They want to be free to innovate in the classroom,
inspiring pupils to learn. Academy status gives them that
Under Labour, 15 Kent secondary schools were converted to
‘old style’ academies when the focus of the programme was improving