Academies open for business
The government has announced that 142 schools have accepted its offer to become an academy since the Academies Act became law just over a month ago.
These schools have made a commitment to work with other schools and share their expertise.
This is the first wave of converters in a rolling process that allows schools to convert at any stage.
The running total of schools that will become academies this academic year is 216 so far. The current breakdown is as follows:
- 142 schools converting to become academies: 32 are opening this week and a further 110 schools have had Academy Orders signed which means they are on track to convert to academies over the coming months.
- Of the 142, there are 7 primary schools which become the first ever primary academies to open. The Government has said that special schools will also be allowed to become academies from next year.
- 64 new academies replace failing schools this September plus a further 10 opening by April 2011. This is record progress; it took five years for 15 city technology colleges to open, and four years for the first 27 academies to open.
Academies are state-funded independent schools which will receive direct funding, outside of the control or support of local authorities.
Education Secretary, Michael Gove said: "This Government believes that teachers and head teachers, not politicians and bureaucrats, should control schools and have more power over how they are run. That’s why we are spreading academy freedoms. This will give heads more power to tackle disruptive children, to protect and reward teachers better, and to give children the specialist teaching they need."
However, Christine Blower, head of the National Union of Teachers, rejected claims that they would raise standards - and said the low take-up showed the idea had failed to catch the imagination of schools.
"For a policy that was supposed to be a flagship change for education, it is something of a failure to have so few schools opening at this stage," she said.
Under the previous Labour government academies were focused on improving areas of underachievement, with academies having outside sponsors and high-profile buildings. But the coalition government has changed the direction of the academy programme, now inviting the most successful schools to take on independent status.
Chris Keates, leader of the NASUWT teachers' union, has also criticised schools opting out to take academy status. She said: "The idea that a handful of governors or an individual head teacher can make such a serious and irreversible decision without having consulted fully with staff, parents and the local community will shock all right-minded people."
A full list of all schools becoming academies for this September term is available to download.
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