Secondary schools in England: Issues of governance and autonomy by Professor Anne West, David Wolfe QC and Basma Yaghi


Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

Since 2010 there has been a massive expansion of academies – schools outside local authority control – funded directly by central government. In this working paper we focus on the governance of different types of secondary schools in England: those maintained by local authorities, those that are single academy trusts (SATs) and those that are part of multi-academy trusts (MATs).

The research comprised an analysis of legislative provision and policy documents, and a documentary analysis of the governance arrangements of a sample of 23 secondary schools of different types. Our findings reveal that the system of state funded secondary schools in England is fragmented in terms of overall governance, admissions arrangements, the curriculum, and responsibility for use of resources, with schools of different types operating to different rules.

The findings provide support for greater clarity and transparency regarding the governance of schools (including school governing bodies akin to those in maintained schools) and add support to the notion of a “common rule book” for all state funded schools. We present a number of implications for policy.

Click here for the full report.