Last week the Department for Education released the latest figures on schools in England converting to Academy status. A further 162 schools converted in March 2011, which means that converting Academies now exceed the number of sponsored Academies. There are now 357 converting Academies and 272 sponsored Academies. The number of primary Acadmies remains low, with 82 having converted as of 01 April 2011, representing approximately 0.5% of the primary school estate. However, approximately 8% of secondary schools have now converted and a further 8% are sponsored Academies -- if all the secondary school applications to convert are successful, more than a quarter of the secondary school estate will have Academy status.

Until last week's announcement, only schools judged as being 'Outstanding' or 'Good with Outstanding Features', or schools working in partnership with one of these high performing schools, were eligible to apply for Academy status. The eligibility criteria has now been extended to include any school that can make a 'compelling case' for Academy status, which will include the following:

  • exam performance over the last three years;
  • comparison with local and national exam performance;
  • latest Ofsted reports with a specific focus on 'capacity to improve', 'outcomes', and 'leadership and management';
  • for special schools, in addition to the above, other success in supporting the learning of pupils with special educational needs;
  • any other matters that the school may rely on in order to demonstrate that it is performing well.

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