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Visionary academies lose freedom to control

THE FREEDOM of academies to control their admissions, exclude pupils and promote Christianity has been dramatically reined in, a TES investigation has revealed. An analysis of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the latest generation of academies differ hugely from the revolutionary vision for the "independent state schools" first lauded by Tony Blair.

This week, the Prime Minister let it be known that he was considering announcing additional academies, on top of the 200 already due to be in development by 2010.

Academies, believed to be the brainchild of Lord Adonis, schools minister, while he was a member of the Downing Street policy unit, are meant to provide extra resources, and provide an input from outside sponsors, to raise standards in poor performing schools in disadvantaged areas. The documents show that sponsors are exercising less freedom over the way the latest tranche of academies are run.

Only one of the 19 academies opened in September has opted for the right to select 10 per cent of its students by aptitude for a particular subject, despite half of the Government's early academies doing so. One school, the John Madejski academy, has no intention of using its right yet because it is undersubscribed.

The TES has discovered that future academies are expected to have even fewer freedoms than the 46 opened to date.

A "model funding agreement", drawn up by the Department for Education and Skills in August this year, sets out tighter standards on RE, pay, governance, admissions, assessment and the curriculum for the schools to follow.

Academies investigation, 20

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