School academies – your questions answered

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  • 1 in 10 secondary schools is now an academy, which means they are outside of local government control.

    Do your kids go to an academy? Do you think they’re a good idea? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the box below or tell us on facebook.

    What is an academy school?

    An academy is a school that is funded by the government, but isn’t controlled by the government. They have more freedom to teach how they want to and don’t have to stick to the National Cirriculum in the way that other schools do.

    Could my child’s school become an academy?

    Yes. Any schools (primary or secondary) that were judged as ‘outstanding’ in their last Ofsted report can become academies as early as September. All other schools can apply to become academies, they need the consent of an existing foundation – such as a church, but don’t need the consent of their local authority.

    How are academies funded?

    They are funded by the government in the same way as other schools (so you don’t have to pay for your children to go there) – but also have a sponsor such as a church or business.

    Can parents set up their own schools now?

    The government is planning to make it possible for parents or other groups to set up their own academy schools from September 2011. Similar schemes are used in Sweden and the US.

    Why are they doing this?

    The idea of Academy schools first came up under Tony Blair’s government in 2000, as a way of raising standards of schools that were performing badly. Generally the idea is to give schools more freedom – Education Secretary Michael Grove told the BBC: ‘It’s about saying to heads, and boards of governors and teachers – it’s up to you.’

    What do you think?

    Do you think academies are a good idea? Will they improve education? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or tell us on facebook.