The backlog of failing maintained schools waiting for academy conversion has been cut by nearly two-thirds over the past two years, the national schools commissioner has revealed.
Appearing before the Commons Education Select Committee today, Dominic Herrington said two years ago there were about 200 "inadequate" maintained schools going through the academy conversion process.
A year ago there were 149, and now there are 76, of which "most" will open this year as academies, the Department for Education official said.
This represents a 62 per cent cut in the number of failing schools waiting to become academies.
'Inadequate' schools waiting to become academies
Mr Herrington said: "Two years ago, there were about 200 schools that were going through the process – 'inadequate' maintained schools – to conversion.
"A year ago that was 149. Now that's down to 76. Of those 76, most of those will open this year as academies. So we're getting down to a very small number."
He added: "As I said before, the most important thing [is] that – whatever the number is – there will be a plan for improving that school, for helping the heads and the teachers in that school."
Committee member Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, pointed out that "in a previous iteration, when there were 40 'orphan' schools, that was a matter of concern for the education select committee...so now it's 76".
But Mr Herrington said: "Well, no it's not 76 – it's going down all the time and it will be very, very low."
Mr Mearns also asked about Hanson School in Bradford, which is "coming up to its 10-year anniversary of being given an academy order".
Vicky Beer, regional schools commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, told the committee that she is "really hopeful" that a new sponsor has been identified for the school, and is "ready and able" to take it on.