Schools for the future

How schools have changed

There was a time when councils managed (maintained) all schools in their area and were responsible for what schools did. Changes in legislation have reduced the role of the council and strengthened that of schools and the central government department; the Department for Education.

The diagram below explains how the legislation has changed and how this has shifted responsibility.

Changes over the years

These changes mean that the role of the school and the council can be confusing.

The role of the council

  • manages the school admissions process
  • ensures every child has a school place
  • ensures the needs of vulnerable pupils are met
  • sets the school funding policy
  • supports schools to continuously improve

Types of schools

Schools can now choose to become independent of a council by becoming an academy. These schools are funded directly by central government.

Academies are increasingly being run by a trust which oversees a number of schools. Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum although they must teach a broad and balanced curriculum including English, maths, science and religious education.

Academies can also decide what age range of pupils they wish to provide for and can choose to consult on changing their current service (for example proposing a move to become a primary rather than a lower school).

Academy schools are responsible for their own school performance and improvement. There is no obligation to engage with other schools or the council to share best practice and collaborate on school improvement, but many do.

Maintained schools are overseen and funded by a council and follow the national curriculum. We might own the land and buildings for maintained schools.

Even where schools continue to be 'maintained' by a council, some of these schools manage their own budgets and employ their own staff and can also change their pupil age range by up to two years without council approval.

School governing bodies and head teachers are responsible for pupil outcomes and school improvement in maintained schools.