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Worst primaries to become academies

Four hundred primary schools in England deemed to be the weakest are to be turned into academies in a bid to drive up standards, the prime minister has announced.

David Cameron said the schools would be paired with a sponsor or be in the process of being reopened as an academy by the end of next year.

Academies are state funded, but privately-run schools which operate independently of their local education authority. They have more freedom to innovate and do not have to follow the national curriculum.

But there have been several high-profile disputes where academy status has been enforced in struggling schools by Department for Education officials.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting at an academy school in Bristol, Mr Cameron said the driving mission for this government was to build an "aspiration nation" and that a first-class education system was central to that vision.

A £10m fund has also been announced to encourage the development of academy sponsors. But the National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower there was no evidence to show that academy status in primary schools brings any educational benefits.

"Despite this the coalition government is pressing ahead regardless, removing schools from their local authority and handing them over to unelected sponsors. These decisions are being taken over the heads of local authorities, teachers, head teachers and parents.”

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