Academies programme £1bn over budget, says watchdog
A tenfold increase in the number of English schools converting to academies has meant £1bn in extra costs, says the government's spending watchdog.
The Department for Education (DfE) met the expense from its overall budget, says the National Audit Office report.
"The department was unprepared for the financial implications of rapid expansion," the authors say.
The government said it made "no apology for spending money on a programme that is proven to drive up standards".
In May 2010 there were 203 academies, which are publicly funded independent state schools directly accountable to the DfE and outside local authority control. The programme was started by the Labour government as a way to transform struggling schools.
After the election the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced plans to allow all schools in England to convert to academy status. By September 2012 some 2,309 schools had converted, representing a growth of 1,307%, and 48% of secondary pupils were attending academies.
Read more ... (BBC News - 22 November)
Schools face cuts to pay for £1bn academies overspend - (The Independent - 22 November)