Schools becoming academies at rate of one a day, says Gove

STATE schools are converting to academies at a rate of one a day, education secretary Michael Gove said yesterday, as the government’s plan to free headteachers from local government control gathers pace.

In total, 121 academies have opened since the election, bringing the total number to 324. A further 90 schools will get academy status in the coming months, while 41 failing schools are set to switch status from September 2011. That means there will be at least 455 such schools by the time of the new school year in 11 months.

Aides to Gove say the academy programme represents the fastest educational reform in English history. They point out that Lord Baker’s City Technology Programme, which had similar aims, converted just 15 schools over a five-year period.

Academies are schools that receive their funding directly from the government, and do not have to answer to their local authority. Their backers say they have improved standards.

In 2008-09, academies increased the number of pupils getting five good GCSEs including English and Maths by five per cent, double the national average of 2.5 per cent.