22nd January 2013
Education reforms lead to first increase in number of schools in 5 years
Academies and free schools begin to swell
The number of schools in England has risen for the first time in
five years, according to figures from Syscap, a leading independent
finance provider to the education sector.
The total number of schools in England rose by 41 in 2011-12
(year end September 3), compared with an average fall of 141
schools per year over the previous four years.
Syscap says that the figures show the impact of reforms to the
education system, with the launch of free schools and an increase
in academies. However Syscap warns these new schools to budget
properly for the demand from parents for investment in new
Says Philip White, Chief Executive of Syscap: "Our education
system is undergoing the biggest shake-up since the introduction of
comprehensive schools, and as a result, we've seen the number of
schools rise for the first time in five years."
"Free schools obviously need to equip themselves from the ground
up, but even for an existing school converting to academy status,
there are expectations from parents that there will be new
equipment in the school."
This total was boosted by a huge increase in the number of
newly-created academies, which more than trebled from 52 in 2010-11
to 180 in 2011-12. 69 free schools were also created in 2011-12,
the first full year since their introduction.
On top of these new schools there were also 830 academies
created by conversion from traditional school types in 2011-12.
Syscap explains that while schools converting to academy status
may retain the same buildings and teaching staff, independence from
local authority control puts these schools in charge of their own
procurement, resulting in a larger per-pupil budget. Many academy
sponsors state their intention to transform their schools through
Comments Philip White: "These schools have complete control over
their own budgets, and this has delivered a significant boost to
per-pupil spending. They must ensure that this spending is done in
an effective manner. Improving IT equipment is one way in which
these schools can make a statement about their future
"This kind of overhaul of equipment may appear daunting to
school administrators, but it can be a major draw when attracting
new pupils to the school."
"Leasing allows schools much more flexibility than major
up-front investment - when budgets are tight, spreading the cost of
major IT purchases over a longer period can allow further
investment in other areas."
Syscap says that IT equipment for pupils is not the only
purchase that may be necessary for new academies and Free Schools -
management and accounting software may be a vital investment for
school administrators unused to managing such large budgets.
Explains Philip White: "We are expecting to see an increased
demand for software to help manage the administration and
accounting of these new schools. For school management who are
still gaining experience in their new roles, software that can
monitor budgets, pupil absences and parental communication can be
Emphasis on computer science influences IT
Syscap adds that Education Secretary Michael Gove's plan to put
computer science and programming skills at the forefront of
technology teaching is also influencing buying decisions.
Philip White comments: "Schools are planning technology
upgrades with programming in mind, but they still need to run a
suite of computers for countless other functions like maths,
design, desktop publishing and language teaching."
This is presenting schools with some quite difficult
decisions, and they know that with austerity here to stay for
several more years, they need to get the biggest possible return
from their investment."
Change in number of schools in England
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