Nearly 600 primary schools have been forced to become academies due to “long records of under-performance”, official figures have shown.
The latest data release is the first to show the number of primary academies out-numbering secondaries for the first time.
According to data released by the Department for Education today, there are now 1,983 primary academies nationwide, 570 of which are forced conversions by government officials.
In its release, the DfE said the sponsored academies were suffering from under-performance as council-run schools, but were now getting help from “brilliant sponsors”.
Education secretary Michael Gove said his government’s aim was for all children to leave primary school literate and numerate, and academies were enabling it to achieve that goal.
“Hundreds of primary schools which were struggling under council control have now been paired up with academy sponsors, and the children in those schools are at last getting up to speed in the 3Rs,” he said.
“We’ve also taken power away from politicians and bureaucrats and given it to more than a thousand great primary heads by letting them become academies. After all, they are the ones who know their pupils and understand what they need.
“It is inspiring to see so many heads take up these freedoms and use them to give children a better start in life.”
The rise in primary academies means more than 500,000 pupils are now taught in such schools, with 30,000 teachers working in them.
In total, the number of academies has surpassed 4,000, including free schools, studio school and University Technical Colleges, with 12 per cent of primaries now academies and 58 per cent of secondaries.