Every school in England will be given the chance to convert to academy status “to benefit from the freedoms this brings”, PM David Cameron has said.
In a Daily Telegraph article marking the first 100 days of government, he said “teachers, not bureaucrats” should decide how best to educate children.
It was announced in June that up to 1,000 schools in England, including failing ones, would become academies.
Academies are independent and funded directly by central government.
By June of this year, there were 4,676 of them open in England – the number has grown dramatically from 203 in May 2010.
More than half of all secondary schools in England are now academies.
However, academies have been opposed by teaching unions, who say they undermine the state school system and are a form of privatisation.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT), the largest teachers’ union, also claims there is no evidence they raise standards.
What is an academy?
They are independent, state-funded schools that operate outside of local authority control.
They get money directly from the government, rather than from local councils.
Although the day-to-day running of academies remains the responsibility of head teachers or principals, they are overseen by individual charitable bodies called academy trusts and may be part of an academy chain.
They can have sponsors, such as businesses, universities, other schools, faith groups or voluntary groups.
Academies do not have to follow the national curriculum, can set their own term times, but do still have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions, as state schools.
Academies – old and new explained
Cameron’s ‘100 days’ under scrutiny
In his article, Mr Cameron praised Labour for coming up with the idea of academy schools, but added that “when Labour leadership contenders say they want to phase out academies, I say the opposite”.
He said: “That is why in the first 100 days we have brought forward legislation to transform all failing schools into academies, and for the first time taken the power to convert coasting schools into academies too.
“But we have also seen how these freedoms can help all schools, with more than 3,000 good and outstanding schools already making the decision to become academies themselves.”