Last month, 97 schools became academies – the equivalent of more than four opening every school day. This takes the total number of open academies to 801, meaning that academies now account for more than 20 per cent of all secondary schools in England.

Also the number of schools that have applied to be academies since June 2010 increased by 110 to 1,353. More than a third of all secondary schools are academies or are in the process of converting.

This was the rate of progress under Labour:

   3 opened in 2002
   9 opened in 2003
   5 opened in 2004
   10 opened in 2005
   19 opened in 2006
   37 opened in 2007
   47 opened in 2008
   70 opened in 2009
   3 opened in January 2010.

Total = 203

A growing number schools that Alastair Campbell might call "bog standard" are also coming forward to become academies by joining up with outstanding schools in multi-academy chains. These schools recognise that, by working in partnership with good or outstanding schools, they will be able to gain the knowledge, teaching and leadership expertise they need to raise standards faster.

One example of this is Etonbury Middle School in Bedfordshire. This is a satisfactory rated school which plans to become an academy and join a multi-academy trust with Robert Bloomfield Academy, an outstanding school which became an academy in May. Other schools are also planning to join the trust.

The Head master of Etonbury Middle School, Albert Mistrano, said:

Our academy bid rests on our firm belief that by teaming up with an outstanding school we will quickly introduce outstanding teaching practices and leadership.  This has already started with the introduction of a brand new Year 5 team led by the Head of Year 5 from Robert Bloomfield Academy and a new Director of Specialism/Head of Science, also from Robert Bloomfield Academy. Indeed, our timetables have been written together this year in order to have seamless joint staffing.

At Senior Leadership level, Etonbury and Robert Bloomfield are now working as a united team in order to iron out inequalities of delivery between the two schools. Our aim is for Etonbury to reach outstanding status within two years as a result of our work as an academy within a multi-academy trust.

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