Implications of autonomy and networks for costs and inclusion: Comparing patterns of school spending under different governance systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


Policy reform around the globe has increased the autonomy that schools enjoy in spending on resources. This reform assumes that schools face strong incentives to use their resources to maximise pupil attainment and that they know best how to spend their money to achieve this aim. This study provides evidence of the relationship between governance and how schools choose to spend their money. It uses data for all state-funded secondary schools in England for the academic years 2009/10, 2011/12 and 2015/16. This enables a comparison of schools operating under three forms of governance: local authority maintained schools (LAMs); schools operated as a single ‘academy’ trust outside local authority control (SATs); or those in a network of academy schools governed by a multi-academy trust (MATs). The data provide no support for claims that academy schools will spend less on administration or that networks of schools will enjoy economies of scale. The data do show that academy schools spent proportionately less on teacher salaries and educational support, and more on back office costs, after taking account of pupil characteristics.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Management Administration & Leadership
Early online date21 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2019


  • Academies, economies of scale, educational support, governance, school bureaucracy, school costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas