FOI release

Unfilled academy places in England funded by the Department for Education since 2010

Academy places funded by the Department for Education that remain unfilled in each year since 2010, including costs.


  • Date requested: 12 March 2013
  • Date responded: 25 March 2013


The number of unfilled academy places across England that are funded by the Department for Education in each year since 2010 and the overall cost of these unfilled places funded by the department in each year since 2010.


Most of our academies are funded using their previous year’s October census and we fund them retrospectively for that number of pupils. For example, an academy receiving funding for their 2013 to 2014 academic year based upon their actual numbers, as recorded in their previous year’s October 2012 census. This is known as lagged funding, as the funding is always a year behind the pupil numbers. This approach is the same for maintained schools, meaning that we provide funding only for the actual number of pupils.

A small number of academies on the older style funding agreements are able to submit estimated pupil numbers instead of using their October census figure. They are allowed to do this until they reach 90% of their capacity at which point they would typically move onto census funding, as described above. However, academies using estimated pupil numbers are subject to a pupil number adjustment exercise towards the end of the academic year in question. This entails comparing their estimated numbers with their January census return for that year and identifying the difference between the two figures. We then adjust their funding to reflect this change according to the conditions laid out in their funding agreement, meaning that academies ultimately receive funding based on the actual number of pupils on roll.

By taking this approach we do not fund any empty places in academies.