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Education Update May 2012 England's schools revolution: a progress report, two years on | Education | The Guardian
England's schools revolution: a progress report, two years on | Education | The Guardian: "The landscape of education in England is changing fast, and the pace of change has accelerated since the coalition came to power nearly two years ago. From being a tool to turn around failing schools, the option of academy status has been extended to all schools. Last week, the Department for Education confirmed that more than half of England's secondary schools are, or are about to become, academies."
2000 The education secretary, David Blunkett, announces the Academies Programme. Academies were intended to replace existing failing schools or create new schools in areas of educational under-achievement. They would be state-funded but run in partnership with sponsors such as churches or businesses. The sponsor was expected to provide financial backing for the school.
2002 The first academy opens. The Business Academy, Bexley, is followed by several others including Mossbourne, in 2004, on the former site of Hackney Downs – once called the "worst in Britain". Mossbourne becomes the most high-profile success of the programme. Last summer, 82% of its students achieved the benchmark of five good GCSE passes including English and maths.
2010 Labour leaves office with about 200 academies open. The coalition's Academies Act 2010 allows all schools to apply for conversion to academies. They do not need to have sponsors. The legislation also authorises the creation of free schools, which can be set up by parents, teachers or charities.
2011 The first 24 free schools open their doors, including one in west London where the journalist Toby Young is chairman of the governors; a Sikh school in Birmingham; and a Hindu school in Leicester.
2012 At the start of March, there were 1,635 academies in England. By April, more than half of all secondary schools are academies or due to convert.