Academies: an emerging picture

Key insights

View all posts by OliverWhen The Key’s researchers came together last week to discuss the last five years in education, it was the academies programme which provoked the liveliest debate.

The scale of transformation  in the school landscape has been huge. There are now nearly 4,500 open academies, compared to just 200 five years ago, and over 20% of mainstream state funded schools are academies.  Though controversial, the policy has been undeniably popular. In fact, in the early days the conversion rate took even the Department for Education (DfE) by surprise, as it had initially planned for just 200 academy conversions a year.

As a result, in five years England’s school system has moved decisively away from being a locally administered structure, towards one that is controlled and funded by central government through contractual arrangements with thousands of providers.

During our discussion, the researchers’ views on this development were varied and nuanced (of course), but generally split down the…

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