School conversion benefit is academic, says report into charity status

Compliance with charity governance is causing a greater burden for some academies than their former relationship with local authorities, the National Governors Association (NGA) says.

The body says the greater transparency, financial accountability and concern over conflicts of interest are proving toughest.

The high-profile collapse of charity Kids Company has caused additional concern for the NGA, which believes problems with funding steams and overlong trustee tenure could soon hang over academies.

“Academy school status was sold on its freedoms,” said Emma Knights, NGA chief executive. “But what has taken trustees and leaders by surprise is financial accountability and the publishing of detailed accounts.

“So the transparency of the charity sector is a bit of a shock. They have also had to set up their own business systems – a lot didn’t have school business managers.

“Some will say they have coped well with such things, but there are a number of academies that will say privately that they didn’t realise how much was involved. There has been quite a lot of protest and moaning.”

Ms Knight is calling on academies to change mind-sets from established formulae to free-flowing governance that can deal with sudden changes in funding and accountability.

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