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Academies: Sponsorship

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what minimum criteria academy school sponsors must meet. (219897)

Sponsors come from a wide range of backgrounds, including universities, educational foundations, businesses, individuals and faith communities. The suitability of sponsors and their ability to make a significant contribution to the academies programme is assessed during the process of brokering a project before an expression of interest is agreed by the Secretary of State.

The Department carries out rigorous checks to establish the suitability of individuals and organisations wishing to become sponsors of academies. These include checking their financial viability to supply the funds pledged as well as their general suitability.

Potential sponsors should be able to demonstrate:

transparency of business arrangements (both in the EU and overseas) and ability to account for funds (including donations from other parties);

evidence of a successful business background including evidence of consistent and sustained trading (where appropriate);

a long-term commitment to the UK education sector and the aims of the academies programme;

potential to run a successful school and to contribute towards raising standards;

ability to enhance the reputation of the academies programme;

ability to promote community cohesion; and

financial status commensurate with academy sponsorship and/or evidence of ability to raise the necessary funds where appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding is required from (a) private sector and (b) university partner sponsors of academy schools. (219899)

Sponsors of the early academies were required to provide 10 per cent. of the capital costs of a new building, capped at a maximum of £2 million. These sponsorship funds were not payable "up-front", but over the lifetime of a building project.

In 2006, the endowment model of sponsorship was announced. All sponsors are now expected to establish an endowment fund.

A sponsor from the educational sector may bring value to an academy project through their reputation and expertise in the educational field, but have more restricted access to charitable funding. For this reason, sponsors with a successful track record of running educational institutions (including high performing schools and colleges, universities and sponsors of existing academies) are expected to establish an endowment fund, but are not required to commit any specific sum to the endowment.

Other sponsors joining the programme will, as the norm, establish an endowment fund worth £2 million, with a minimum of £500,000 payable in the first year. Payment of the endowment will normally be over five years.

The proceeds of the endowment are spent by the academy trust on measures to counteract the impact of deprivation on education in their local communities.