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Practical guide to sponsoring academies, university technical colleges and free schools

See the guide

Search for schools 

See which schools have sponsorship:

Find an academy

Find a University Technical College

Find a free school

What are HE-sponsored schools?

Higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs) can sponsor several types of state-funded school:

  • academies
  • free schools
  • university technical colleges (UTCs)
  • less commonly, studio schools.

We’re aware of around 60 HEIs that have these sponsorship relationships.  

As a sponsor, the HE provider will work closely with the Board of Trustees and headteacher to run the academy, UTC, and free school.

As part of fulfilling their sponsorship responsibilities, HE providers tend to take on the following roles: 

  • governance (for example, HEI staff sit on the governing body, or act as ‘responsible officer’ for the school)
  • curriculum design
  • educational support (for example, HEI students mentoring school pupils)
  • services to the school (human resources and finance are common). 

What have we done?

To understand the nature, scale and impact of HE providers sponsoring academies, UTCs and free schools, our work has had three strands:

1. Qualitative study and practical guide

In December 2015, we commissioned York Consulting to explore the experiences of institutions involved in sponsoring academies, UTCs and free schools and develop case studies and a thematic report.

From this work HEFCE have put together a practical guide for HE providers about sponsoring academies, UTCs and free schools. 

See the guide

2. Practitioner event  

In March 2015, we held an event to bring together the people at institutions working in this area. 

See our blog for further information

Presentations from the event

Introduction and overview of HEFCE research, Yvonne Hawkins and Chris Millward, Director (Universities and Colleges) and Director (Policy)

Download the Introduction as PDF (810 KB)

Working with UTCs, Dr Richard Hutchins, Director, Jaguar Land Rover Programmes, WMG, University of Warwick and CEO, WMG Academy 

Download the Working_with_UTCs as PDF (2,583 KB)

Working with an academy, Eamon Martin, Director, Educational Relationships, City University London

Download the Working_with_an_academy as PDF (461 KB)

Raising aspirations and attainment through school sponsorship, Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton

Download the Raising_aspirations as PDF (914 KB)

Working with a free school, Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal and Chief Executive, Plymouth College of Art

Download the Working_with_a_free_school as PDF (8,066 KB)

3. Developing a picture of HE-sponsored schools 

See our analysis page for what we have found.  

Page last updated 26 September 2017