For the first time, more than 50% of pupils in England are now taught in an academy or free school.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds hailed the milestone as “a decisive moment” and urged more schools to consider the freedom and opportunities offered by becoming an academy.
Today’s figures, published by the Department for Education, reflect school leaders’ recognition of the autonomy and freedom to innovate offered by the academies programme, alongside the increased ability to make decisions in the interests of staff and pupils. This included measures such as altering the length of the school day or adapting the curriculum to help every child access a school that meets their needs, interests and abilities. More than 8,300 schools in the country have become an academy or opened as a free school, with hundreds of schools making the positive choice to convert to become an academy in the last 12 months alone.
The academies programme was introduced by the last UK Government in 2000 with the aim “to improve pupil performance and break the cycle of low expectation”. By 2010, there were 203 academies – mostly in inner cities.
The 2010 Academies Act gave all schools in England the freedom to choose to become an academy and now over 50% of pupils in the state funded education system are taught in an academy or free school.