Weakest schools in England to be taken over

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

Image caption,
There are about 75 schools which inspectors have kept in special measures for more than a year

Dozens of the worst-performing schools in England are set to be turned into academies under new management.

The government is expected to give details later this week of how it will implement election promises to take over under-performing schools.

This could mean schools being removed from local authority control and taken over by an academy sponsor.

The education watchdog Ofsted says there are 75 schools which have been in special measures for more than a year.

In the run-up to the election, the Conservatives promised that such schools, which had not shown signs of improving, would be turned into academies by September 2011.

'Sink schools'

The party pledged to identify the "very worst schools - the sink schools which have desperately failed their children - and put them rapidly into the hands of heads with a proven track record of success".

This will mark the latest expansion in the academy programme, in which schools, operating outside the local education authority, are funded directly and given greater autonomy.

Under the previous government, academies were targeted at raising standards in disadvantaged areas.

But the coalition government offered a fast-track route for outstanding schools to become academies.

At the beginning of the autumn term, 32 of these new-style academies opened, including the first seven primary academies.

There are a further 110 schools which are set to convert to academy status - in addition to the 200 created under the Labour government.

Teachers' unions have been critical of the process of schools becoming free-standing academies - arguing that it will weaken their local accountability.

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