Schools which sign up for the Government’s flagship academies programme need more help raising money and managing their finances, MPs have warned.
There are eight Birmingham schools currently applying to become academies and a ninth, Ninestiles in Acock’s Green, became an academy this month.
But MPs in an influential Commons committee said they were concerned about the way academies were managed.
Schools Secretary Michael Gove urged successful schools to apply to become academies, which means they work with private sponsors and have more freedom from government control, as one of his first acts after last year’s General Election.
But the Public Accounts Committee warned in a report: “We were concerned that there are already signs of potential financial and governance instability, even at this early stage.”
The Government gave academies advice on how to manage their finances - but the suggestions were optional and “many academies are not complying”, the MPs said.
Some sponsors had failed to provide the money they originally promised, the MPs said.
And the Department for Education had to make sure “that academies provide value for money and that fraud and overpayments do not occur,” the MPs warned.
Birmingham schools currently applying to become academies include Bartley Green School; Lordswood Girls’ School & Sixth Form Centre, Harborne; King Edward VI Aston School; King Edward VI Camp Hill School for boys; King Edward VI Camp Hill School for girls; King Edward VI Five Ways School; King Edward VI Handsworth School, and The Arthur Terry School, Sutton Coldfield.
Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: “We welcome the substantial progress being made by the original sponsored academies. They have achieved rapid academic improvements and raised aspirations in some of the most challenging schools in the most deprived areas in the country. This is a credit to the academies themselves and the Department for Education.
“However, we are concerned by the increasing risks to the financial management and governance of the academies programme if there is a rapid expansion of the programme as the Government intends.
“The National Audit Office found that over quarter of academies could need extra financial or managerial help to maintain long-term financial health.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “The Government recognises the issues that the PAC report has raised. This is one of the reasons that we announced the creation of the Education Funding Agency in the White Paper published in November last year.”