An academy is funded directly by the Secretary of State for Education. 

They are state-funded independent schools and therefore have more control over how they do things than maintained schools. For example, academies do not have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times.

Academies do have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as maintained schools, and students sit the same exams.

Academies include:

  • all academies. This includes academy special schools, alternative provision academies, and academy boarding schools
  • free schools. These are funded by the Secretary of State for Education but are not run by the local authority. They have more control over how they do things. They are ‘all-ability’ schools, so cannot use academic selection processes like a grammar school. Free schools can change the length of school terms and the school day. They do not have to follow the national curriculum. Free schools are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by groups like: charities, universities, independent schools, community and faith groups, teachers, parents and businesses
  • university technical college schools. These teach specialist subjects like engineering and construction along with business skills and IT. Pupils study academic and practical subjects leading to technical qualifications, and are provided with work experience, and
  • studio schools. These small schools teach mainstream qualifications through project-based learning. Students work with local employers and a personal coach, following a curriculum designed to give them the skills and qualifications they need in further education or work.

You can check the status of a setting online to see if it is an academy.