Located mainly in socially disadvantaged areas, ‘academies’ are new types of non feepaying independent state schools which will transform the educational prospects of many of our most disadvantaged young people. The purpose of the government’s Academies Programme is to help raise standards and

aspirations in schools in challenging circumstances. There were 130 academies open in September 2008. The initial target was for 200 academies to be open or in the pipeline by 2010. In November 2006, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced an expansion of the programme to a total of 400 academies, which will represent more than 13 per cent of all state-funded secondary schools in England. The target may be increased as a result of the government’s focus on raising standards in low-attaining schools.1