Leeds academy plans could cost £4m

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CONVERTING ALL remaining local authority schools in Leeds into academies would cost the city council around £4m, a new report has warned.

Councillors will be told that the 45 completed academy conversions and nine ongoing applications in the city have already cost the authority more than £1m.

The report sets out the implications for Leeds if schools move to a fully academised system. It says that if the remaining state schools in the city, more than 200, all became academies the legal cost would rise to £4m.

Councils are legally required to grant a school converting to an academy a 125-year-lease of their site for free. A report to Leeds City Council’s children’s services scrutiny board, on Thursday, says legal costs of conversion have increased if a council-run school site is already subject to a PFI (private finance initiative) contract with an outside firm as this complicates the transfer of land and buildings.

There are currently 20 secondary academies in Leeds - half of the secondaries in the city.

However the uptake of academy status has been much slower in primaries.

There are 25 primary academies - just 11 per cent of the schools in the city. Academies are state funded schools run outside of local council control.

A Government’s education White Paper this year said it wanted all state schools to become academies by 2022.

Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan subsequently ruled out forcing good schools to convert against their will.

However the council report says the Government’s vision is still for more schools to become academies.