Academy & Free School Website Requirements

School Website Requirements – The differences

Ok, I’m going to start with a confession.  Even when I was a Head Teacher in an Primary Academy, I didn’t realise that the statutory website requirements for an academy were different to that of a maintained school! (I will use “academy” through this document for the sake of brevity but this also refers to free schools).

Throughout the year I would use one of the various checklists included online, or the compliance tool from our hosts, or I’d even Google, “What schools must publish” – all of which were related to maintained schools.  I presented this to governors – governors even checked the website on occasion themselves, but at no point did anyone ever realise the statutory website requirements were different!

So, what are the differences?  For the majority, in all honesty, they are the same but there are some key differences and, interestingly, where the word “must” is used in the maintained schools website requirements, the word “should” tends to be used in the academies document.

However, the caveat is that at the very top of the academy website requirements document it states that, “you need to check your funding agreement to find out exactly what information you must publish on your website.”  To find out what these said, I did go and read some funding agreements from various schools.  They tended to say that schools “shall ensure” that certain information is published, such as performance data, curriculum content etc.  So, even though the academy website requirements says “should” your funding agreement (probably) says, “shall ensure”!

My takeaway from the issue above would be, to be safe assume all “shoulds” in the requirements document are “musts” and then you will never fall short.  In all honesty, if I ever had any requirements that were “could” or “should” I did them anyway so that I didn’t ever have to justify to someone why I had chosen to do less than I potentially could have.

I have broken down the differences into the sections listed in the order they appear in the website requirements document.

Contact details

In addition to everything a maintained school must publish, academies should also publish:

  • Name and address of the chair of the governing body (if you have one)
  • If the school’s owner is an individual, you should publish their full name and contact details (address and a telephone number)
  • If the school’s owner is a group or organisation, you should publish the address and telephone number of its office

Admission arrangements

  • Academy trusts must publish the admissions arrangements for their schools on their website and keep them there for the whole of the offer year (the school year in which offers for places are made).

Ofsted reports

The same.

Exam and assessment results

The same.

Performance tables

The same.


The differences here are related to 16 – 19 provision.

Remote education

The same.

Behaviour policy

Whereas, maintained schools are required to, “Publish details of your school’s behaviour policy,” which must comply with Section 89 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. Academies should:

Pupil premium

The same.

Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium

The same.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) catch-up premium

The same.

PE and sport premium for primary schools

The same.

Equality objectives

The same.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

The same.

Careers programme information

The same.

Complaints policy

The addition here is that academies are encouraged to also publish a Whistleblowing Policy.

Annual reports and accounts

Academies need to publish:

  • Annual report
  • Annual audited accounts
  • Memorandum of association
  • Articles of association
  • Names of charity trustees and members
  • Funding agreement

Trustees’ information and duties

Whereas maintained schools refer to, “Governors’ information and duties” academies are around Trustees and they should publish:

  • Academy trusts must publish accessible and up to date details of governance arrangements. Further information in the Academies financial handbook (paragraphs 2.49 to 2.50).

Financial information

In the academies requirements this is just listed as, “Executive pay” and academies are required to:

  • You must publish how many employees have a gross annual salary and benefits of £100,000 or more. You should publish these figures in £10,000 increments.

Interestingly, maintained schools are also required to publish a link to the webpage which is dedicated to their school on the schools financial benchmarking service – this isn’t in this document for academies but I’d check your funding agreement just to be safe – or publish the link and then you know you are safe!

Charging and remissions policies

The same.

Values and ethos

The same.

Requests for copies

The same.

As you can see, the requirements are generally the same with a few important differences mainly based around funding statements, accounts and agreement documents.  The website requirements documents can be found here:

How we can help

I fully appreciate keeping a website up-to-date is a time consuming job so I hope that these points have been useful in making sure you meet statutory requirements.  If you would like some extra peace of mind, why not use our comprehensive audit service? Your comprehensive report will be returned within two working days giving you evidence of your level of compliance and also an action plan for any areas for development.

Download our Primary Audit Report Example 


Frequently asked questions

What do your audit process look like?

Firstly, we look at what type of school you are, e.g. Primary or Secondary and then whether you are a maintained school or academy (because the requirements differ depending on your type of school).  We then carefully go through your website checking each criterion in the statutory requirements ensuring that the documents or information is available, that links work and that any documents are in date.

What do I receive after your audit?

You will receive a report with a RAG rating next to every requirement for your website.  If you have any amber or red colours, there will be an accompanying comment explaining why this isn’t green and suggestions where appropriate for what needs to be done.  In some cases, even when a criterion is fully met and coloured green, we may include a comment with some hints or tips that could be useful.

What do the colours mean on your report?

Green – complete and no action required.

Amber – present but needs attention, e.g. may be out of date or missing some information.

Red – missing from the website or incorrect.

Does your audit meet the statutory requirements as they are today?

Yes, the DfE site is checked regularly to ensure that our audits meet statutory requirements as they are today.  We also get weekly updates from the DfE informing us of any changes to their statutory requirements to ensure that our audits are always correct at the date of publication.

Do you actually look at the documents or just make sure that they are available on the site?

We do actually check the documents to make sure they are in date and, for things like the Pupil Premium report, make sure that they are on the correct template.

Find our Statutory School Website Audit here.

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