Huge increase in academies takes total to more than 2300

Published on Friday, 07 September 2012 11:09
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Figures out today (Friday 7 September 2012) reveal that 282 academies open this month, taking the total number to 2309. There are now more than 10 times as many academies as there were in May 2010 when there were just 203 academies.

Failing schools have been specifically targeted by the Government for radical improvement. A record 130 sponsored academies open this month. The total number of sponsored academies is now 501.

The Government is tackling chronic educational under-performance by installing new leaders and providing great sponsors for weak schools. In 2011, the GCSE results of sponsored academies open for at least two years improved almost twice as fast as those for all state-funded schools.  This month:

54 per cent of secondary schools are either already academies or in the pipeline to become academies.1.7 million pupils are now taught in academies.120,000 teachers – a quarter of the frontline school workforce – are now employed in academies. 48 per cent of the secondary workforce are in academies.14 academies for children with special educational needs will open this month taking the total to 56, compared to just one last September.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

We believe in trusting the professionals. That's why we gave teachers the opportunity to take on more freedom and responsibility and they have grabbed it with both hands. Many are now going even further and taking on responsibility for turning around less successful schools. These outstanding converters are becoming the new academy sponsors of the future raising standards across the state sector.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

Academies help to ensure that the professionals – teachers on the frontline – are in charge of schools not politicians or bureaucrats. I am pleased that more schools are choosing to increase their capacity to innovate and our vision is that all schools will take on these freedoms and responsibilities.

Academies put power back into the hands of headteachers. Academies have introduced longer school days, benefiting parents and pupils, and have introduced new contracts that reward high-achieving teachers. Examples include:

David Young Community Academy, Leeds, operates a seven-term academic year which starts in June and finishes in May, with a four-week summer holiday. Headteacher Ros McMullen said: "This ensures that by the time everybody else starts Year 7, the academy's pupils have already had a good 10 weeks of secondary education."Wigmore School in Hereford will from September supply hot healthy lunches to three of its six feeder primary schools, with the hope of supplying all six in the future. Headteacher Andrew Shaw said: 'Due to their geographical locations sending food out to three primary schools will be a challenge for us. But if it means other children will benefit from the same quality food, it is worth it.  We could not have done this without the freedoms gained through Academy status.'Samworth Church Academy in Mansfield, has 90 per cent of employees who voluntarily switched to individual contracts. This has given more flexibility to use traditional school holiday time for creative and innovative programmes ranging from traditional revision classes and coursework catch-ups to 'study residentials' that have combined adventure and outdoor activities with intensive study programmes.

Examples of new sponsored academies include:

Willow Brook Primary School Academy in Leyton is opening this September to replace the underperforming predecessor school. It will be sponsored by Yardley Primary School Academy in Chingford, which has been judged outstanding by Ofsted. Slade Junior and Infant School is an underperforming school in a deprived area of Birmingham. It will become an academy in September joining the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership. Arthur Terry has a rich history in securing improvements in other schools including Stockland Green, which also converted to an academy with the Arthur Terry School in May 2012.Tregolls Primary School in Cornwall was placed in Special Measures by OfSTED in June 2011. It will become an academy this September sponsored by Penair Schools. Penair is an outstanding secondary academy which converted in April 2011.King's Houghton Middle School in Dunstable is an underperforming school rated satisfactory by Ofsted in July 2011. It will become an academy in September joining the successful academy chain Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust.

Tom Clark, Chairman of The Freedom and Autonomy for Schools National Association (FASNA), said:

It is great to see the Academy programme successfully demonstrating the effective use of autonomy in raising standards for pupils. Our member schools are actively involved in supporting other schools thinking about becoming academies and are sharing best practice about how they have used curriculum, staffing and budget freedoms to benefit their pupils and their community.

David Wootton, Chair of the Independent Academies Association and Regional Executive South for Academy sponsor, United Learning, said:

Academies are using the freedom they have over the curriculum and use of resources to innovate and drive school improvement across the country both within academies and beyond, particularly challenging areas of disadvantage. This is not only leading to a significant improvement in pupils' attainment but in using freedoms to innovate in many areas like inclusion, additional needs and community engagement. Academies are transforming the future of education in England.

Source: DfE

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