Academy Charter School vs. Public School: What Are the Differences?

What is an academy, and how does it differ from other types of schools? Here, we look at key aspects of an academy, where it receives its funds, and how it compares with other school systems.

How Academy Differs from Other Schools

An academy is funded by the government, unlike maintained or state-funded schools that receive funds from local authorities and institutions. There are also two types of academies such as the sponsored and converter. The difference between the two is the fact that sponsored academies are sponsor-funded and they are generally under-performing schools turned into an academy.

On the other hand, a converter academy is rated with an outstanding Ofsted grade. This means, they are primarily high performing schools, as compared to sponsored ones.

The Department of Education oversees the quality of instruction in academy charter school. As for the funds, these are received from the Education Funding Agency. For maintained schools, the local authority is responsible for its funding. This type of school is also regarded as a community or a foundation school. Although funding for these schools comes from local authorities, the means of employing staff vary.

In community schools, teachers and other staff are employed by the local authority. However, with foundation schools, staff selection, hiring and admission of students are carried out by the school itself.

In terms of the curriculum followed, academy charter school implements a broad one, although there may be a specialization on arts, engineering, performing arts, technology, computing, science and business. The National Curriculum is also followed in core subject areas taught in an academy, including science, English and math. Yet, the school gives the freedom to be innovative with the teaching strategies and techniques of educators.

Academy charter schools have a Board of Directors, which serves as a Trust that is responsible for the school’s operation. The operation and management of the school are governed by the trustee, although it is possible to delegate some responsibilities to other individuals to govern some tasks such as the school management. The senior management team and the head teacher are assigned to this important responsibility in the school’s operation.

As for a sponsored academy, it is only the sponsor who is entitled to appoint local personnel or staff to serve as the governing body in the school. Sponsors also have the power to set the building, specialization and curriculum of the academy.

Funding of Academy Charter School

Academy charter school may either be primary or secondary schools. However, there are some middle and high schools that are also regarded as academy. These institutions obtain funds from the Department of Education, and these non-profit charitable trusts can also receive financial support from corporate or personal sponsors. As for the authority that maintains its quality of education, the Ofsted is responsible for this task.

Charter Schools vs. Traditional District Public School

Academy charter school is a type of public school that operates independently, which means its operations are more flexible as compared to traditional public schools. In terms of regulations, there is more freedom given to charter schools since they are not required to implement some regulations that district schools are subject to follow. Hence, there is a greater expectation of charter schools to maintain their claims in the charter, such as higher performance in academics, stability of the organization and excellent management of finances. In case the school fails to attain these sets of performance goals, there is a possibility for it to close down.

A charter school operates under a charter governing it, which also determines the name, management style, curriculum and organization of the institution. In addition, the charter dictates the means in which student performance is evaluated and assessed.

Due to the nature of this school, tuition is free, and enrollment policies are more open and liberal than other schools. Furthermore, it is important that these schools comply with accountability and testing programs.

According to statistics, staff members in charter schools have less professional experience, as compared to those employed at traditional district public schools. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics revealed a study that most of the teachers in charters are American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Black. On the other hand, there is less diversity in the racial background of teachers who are employed in public schools, which is another striking feature to consider.

It is also worth noting that 29 percent of charter school teachers have less than three years of professional experience teaching full time, while only 12 percent of educations in traditional public schools have this length of teaching experience.

The amount of money received by charter teachers is also slightly lower than those employed in traditional schools. The salary scheme could be affected by the number of work hours and professional experience of teachers.

Additional Facts About Academy Charter Schools

Since charter schools are considered as public schools, there is no tuition fee for students. The fund received by the school depends on the number of students. However, there are some cases when charter schools are given extra funds to support the needs of students. Instances when students may be eligible for categorical funding by the federal government may be applicable, and grants are also given to charters in managing all of their start-up expenses.

Traditional district public schools and charter schools vary in terms of the regulatory rights and local policies. With charter schools, they are granted autonomy and freedom from the state in establishing their curriculum, financial management and hiring staff. However, they are subject to review and evaluation by the authorizing agency. In case a charter school falls below the standards of the agency, the institution’s operations may be revoked. Thus, the school should be able to attain its standards for performance, so it could continue its operations.

Are Charter Schools For Profit or Nonprofit?

There are a growing number of non-profit groups that have started the operations of charter schools in various states. These non-profit organizations are now managing numerous charter schools, and these still reflect the typical features in this type of educational institution – higher scholastic performance, zero tuition fee and lottery-based selection of students to be admitted every academic year.


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