The Academies Programme: fifty-second report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

An academy is a new type of school that is publicly funded, supported by one or more sponsors and operates independently of the local authority. Their aim is to raise achievement standards in deprived areas by replacing poorly performing schools or by providing new school places where they are needed. 83 academies were in operation by September 2007, with plans for 200 academies to be opened by 2010 at a capital cost of around £5 billion. Following on from a NAO report on this topic (HCP 254, session 2006-07; ISBN 9780102944426) published in February 2007, the Committee's report examines the progress of the Academies Programme and whether it is on track to achieve its objectives. Findings include: i) the average capital cost of the first new-build academies was £27 million, compared with between £20-22 million for other new secondary schools; ii) exclusions of pupils are higher on average from academies that other schools; and iii) although there are signs of progress being made, such as improvements at GCSE and key stage 3 levels, achievements in literacy and numeracy levels are lower than other secondary schools and it is too early to tell whether rising attainment is sustainable. Academies need to collaborate more with other secondary schools and lessons need to be learned from completed academy projects in terms of improving project management and reducing cost overruns.

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