Posted by Brian on 24th August 2008 at 09:43 PM
Academy Schools to be Increased
Schools minister Lord Adonis has signalled a major expansion of the government's flagship academies policy beyond the official target of 400.
Lord Adonis, a leading advocate of the privately-backed semi-independent state schools, said there was "strong pressure" to carry on with the programme.
He also encouraged "pushy parents" to seek the best schools for their children in the hope that would raise overall standards.
"I want every parent to be a pushy parent. It is a jolly good thing," he told the Sunday Times.
Lord Adonis said demand for academies was so high it would be possible to continue opening 100 a year after 2011, when the current 400 target is expected to be met.
He said: "We will have no difficulty moving beyond 400.
"We will make a political decision in due course on where we go beyond 400.
"On the basis of the results and the demand, the only issue is how far.
"We have 100 opening in 2010. There will be very strong pressure from parents and local authorities to maintain that rate."
Academies were a key part of Tony Blair's efforts to reform the education system to increase choice for parents and pupils.
Lord Adonis said provisional figures showed GCSE results at academies, usually located in poorer areas and often replacements for failing schools, had improved twice as fast as the national average this year.
National exam results released last week showed that the proportion of pupils gaining five GCSEs at grade C and above had risen 2.4 per cent to 65.7 per cent.
The academies' figures, taken from the 37 where two years of data were available, showed that the proportion of pupils gaining five A*-Cs had increased by 4.9 per cent to 29.8 per cent.
Lord Adonis said: "My motto as an ardent Blairite is, in the master's words, what matters is what works."
Blair established academies to harness the energy - and money - of wealthy business figures and church groups for improving failing state schools.
When he took over as prime minister last year, Gordon Brown moved to encourage more schools and universities to act as sponsors of academies.
But the schools are unpopular with many on the Labour left and teachers' unions who have branded them unaccountable because of the lack of local authority control.
Due to problems with spam only SalfordOnline members can now leave comments. Becoming a member of SalfordOnline only takes a minute, just hit the red Join Us button at the top right hand side of the page to create your Personal account.
Got a news story? Need help with publicity for an event in Salford? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the SalfordOnline newsdesk on 0161 789 5377.