Academies are publicly-funded, independently-managed schools that aim to provide first-class free education to local pupils of all abilities. Other freedoms include setting their own pay and conditions for staff, freedom from following the National Curriculum, and the ability to change the lengths of their terms and school days.

Until the 2010 election, academies were created from failing schools, or those either in special measure or deprived areas. All academies benefited from a sponsor, whose skills and advice brought a distinctive, and often hugely successful, approach to the school's leadership. Sponsors came from a wide range of backgrounds – business, faith and voluntary groups and educational establishments – and provided headteachers and staff with new opportunities to develop educational strategies to raise standards and contribute to diversity in areas of disadvantage. In most cases, academies were opened in new state-of-the-art buildings, or were given new buildings soon after converting at academy status.

In May 2010, the new Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, proposed new legislation that would allow any school rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted to apply to become an academy. Under this legislation, the academies programme is also open to primary and special schools. Unlike the original academies, no external sponsors are required, although schools applying for conversion to academy status are expected to sign up in principle to support another school to raise attainment.

Schools converting to academy status under the new legislation remain in their current school buildings.

Academies Capital Maintenance Fund

The Academies Capital Maintenance Fund allows open academies to apply for capital funds for specific projects. The main priority is to support academies with significant and urgent building condition and/or health and safety needs which cannot be met from routine maintenance or devolved capital funding. Academies that have recently received capital funding for significant new building and refurbishment works are unlikely to be prioritised. Funding for other urgent capital works may also be considered.

The £85.6 million fund for 2011-12 has been allocated to fund some 363 projects across 232 academies. A list of these projects is available for download from n of this page.

Academies Capital Maintenance Fund 2012-13

The Academies Capital Maintenance Fund 2012-13 was announced in December 2011 and an online application process opened in March. We received bids for 2465 projects, totaling £1.16 billion, from 1071 academies, which far exceeded the £276 million available for the fund. 

Following the assessment process, almost £250 million is being allocated to 773 projects in 571 academies. A list of the successful academies and a Q and A document are available to download from this page.

The second application round for the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund 2012-13 has now closed. Almost 950 applications were received requesting over £150 million. The announcement of funding is due on 14 December 2012. Academies should continue to develop and procure works set out in their applications to enable those projects that are funded to be delivered to programme and by 31 March 3013.

Academies Capital Maintenance Fund 2013-14

The initial application round for the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund 2013-14 is now open. Details of eligibility and how to apply are on the EFA Academies Capital page. The deadline for submitting applications is 6pm on Tuesday 18 December 2012 (for Academies converted before 30 September 2012) and is 6pm on Friday 1 February 2013 (for Academies converting after 30 September 2012).