Most secondary schools will soon be academies in drive for independence

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MOST secondary schools in England are now either run as an academy or bidding to become one according to new figures which reveal more than 140 have opened in Yorkshire.

The coalition has triggered a massive expansion in the number of academies which are run autonomously with money direct from central Government and the freedom to set their own admissions arrangements and ignore the national curriculum.

The Department for Education announced yesterday that almost 1.5 million pupils are educated in academies most of which were local authority schools which have opted to leave council control.

In Yorkshire there are now 97 secondaries and 46 primary schools in the programme.

Nationally there are 1,776 open compared with just over 200 before the coalition encouraged existing schools to apply. Initially academies were set up by the last Labour Government as new schools in new buildings to replace struggling inner-city schools.

The city academy programme, as it was originally known, was broadened to allow existing schools to apply before 2010 but it was Education Secretary Michael Gove who changed the face of the state school system by saying he wanted them to become “the norm.”

There are 1,283 secondary academies open across England and another 358 applying. Once these bids are approved more than half the country’s secondaries will have academy status.

In six of the 15 education authorities in Yorkshire more than half of the secondary schools are academies. North East Lincolnshire has the region’s highest rate at 90 per cent. Doncaster, Wakefield, North Lincolnshire, Calderdale and Sheffield all have more than 50 per cent of secondaries in the academies programme.

Schools Minister Lord Hill said: “In academies, head teachers – not politicians or bureaucrats – are in charge of what happens in the school. I am delighted that the majority of secondary schools in England are seizing this independence by becoming an academy.”