There are 27 Academies across the country, with more than 40 opening this year. The aim is to have 200 open by 2010. These new schools are helping raise standards in disadvantaged areas, but there are concerns over who is really profiting from Academies, and whether other local schools are losing out.
More pupils than ever are doing well at secondary level - with record GCSE and A level results recorded yet again last year. However, there are still too many schools, often in disadvantaged areas, where, despite the best efforts of heads, teachers and parents, the pattern of poor results and low aspirations has proved seemingly impossible to shift.
What are Academies?
Academies are independent state schools specifically charged with taking on this challenge. Some are brand new schools, others replace failing ones (those with 30 per cent or fewer students getting five GCSEs at A*-C).
They are set up as charitable companies by business, faith or