ACADEMIES AND CHARITABLE STATUS
Charities but not regulated by the Commission-also now subject to Freedom of Information
The Department for Education’s academies programme has so far created over 2,300 new, publicly funded independent schools. The charities that run these schools, Academy Trusts, are not, though, regulated by the Charities Commission. In fact, they are exempt from registration and regulation by the Commission. So the DfE is their principal regulator for the purpose of charity law (and of course they are accountable to DfE through their Funding Agreements).
Charities are generally not covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2002, although Academy Trusts are. Academies, by virtue of the Academies Act 2010, are now all subject to the FOIA ( ie since January 2011) though this was not the case for the initial tranche of Academies. A lack of transparency in the way these Academies operated-for example concealing the fact that their pupils were taking ‘soft’ options to secure for their school respectable league table positions-gave Ministers little option but to impose greater transparency.
Ministers say that Academies are improving at a quicker rate than other non-selective schools in the maintained sector , and those that are part of a chain are improving fastest.