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The Academies Act 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It aims to make it possible for all publicly funded schools in England to become academies, still publicly funded but with a vastly increased degree of autonomy in issues such as setting teachers' wages and diverging from the National Curriculum.[2] The Act is inspired by the Swedish free school system.[2] Journalist Mike Baker described it as a "recreation of grant-maintained schools".[3]

Academies Act 2010
Long titleAn Act to make provision about Academies.
Citation2010 c. 32
Introduced byLord Wallace of Saltaire
Territorial extentEngland and Wales
Royal assent27 July 2010
Commencement29 July 2010, 1 September 2010, 1 January 2011[1]
Other legislation
Relates toEducation Act 1996, School Standards and Framework Act 1998, Education Act 2002, Education Act 2005, Education and Inspections Act 2006, Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, Children, Schools and Families Act 2010
Status: Current legislation
History of passage through Parliament
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Academies Act 2010 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from

It was among the first government bills introduced in the 55th United Kingdom Parliament by the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government. The bill was presented by Jonathan Hill, Baron Hill of Oareford in the House of Lords, where it had its third reading on 13 July. It was read a third time in the House of Commons on 26 July. The Act received Royal Assent on the following day and was brought into force in the most part on 29 July.

Angela Harrison, education correspondent for the BBC, has said that the Act "could be the most radical overhaul of schools in England for a generation".[4]



An Academy may be set up under section 1 of the Act by virtue of an agreement between the Secretary of State for Education and any other person. Alternatively, maintained schools may be converted into academies by an Academy Order made under section 4 of the Act, provided that the governing body of the school has applied under section 3 or the school is eligible for intervention under sections 60-62 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. Academies established under section 1 will be charities in addition to receiving funding from the central government.[2] Academies will also be free to set their own curriculum, as long as it is "broad and balanced"[2] meeting the standards set in section 78 of the Education Act 2002. The Act will only affect schools in England.[5]

Initial schoolsEdit

Prior to the 2010 General Election there were 203 academies in England.[2] After the election the new Education Secretary Michael Gove sent a letter to all publicly funded schools inviting them to become academies. Within three weeks, 70% of all outstanding secondary schools expressed interest.[6] Of the 1,567 schools initially expressing interest, 828 were rated "outstanding" and could be fast-tracked into academies by September 2010.[7] An analysis of the list applicants for academy status by the Times Educational Supplement reported that the list was "dominated" by schools from middle class areas, particularly the Home Counties. For example, 12% of schools in Kent applied compared to less than 2% in Middlesbrough.[8] A later list published by the Department for Education said a total of 1,907 schools had expressed an interest.

By 23 July 2010, 153 schools in England had applied for academy status.[9] The list included 12 faith schools and more than 20 grammar schools. Ultimately, 32 new academies (including seven primary schools) opened under the provisions of the Act in the autumn term of 2010. A further 110 schools (including 40 primaries) are planned to convert at a later date.[10] By January 2011 a total of 407 primary and secondary schools with academy status existed (twice as many as before the 2010 election), with the 371 secondary academies representing 11% of the total number of secondary schools.[11]

Reaction and analysisEdit

Opposition MPs and the Conservative chair of the Education Select Committee Graham Stuart accused the government of "rushing" the bill through Parliament,[12] to which the government replied that there was "ample time" to debate the bill.[13] Julian Glover said the "rush hides not the enormity but the thinness of the measure; opposition outrage enhancing the impression that something big must be under way" and the Act "concedes no new powers of any importance".[14]

The Act aims to enshrine greater freedoms for schools given academy status.[15] Janet Daley says this will liberate schools from "monolithic local authority control"[16] while journalist Toby Young said the Act will revitalise the goal of the existing academies system to provide an increased level of choice for parents.[17] Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham said that the plan to increase autonomy for a select number of schools will be divisive and disadvantaged children would lose out.[18] Supporters say that the "pupil premium" (which is not included within the Academies Act but will be brought forward in forthcoming legislation) will countermand this by allocating extra funds for schools with a greater intake of disadvantaged children.[4]

Criticism of provisions in the Act have also come from the British Humanist Association,[19] the Local Government Information Unit,[20] the Liberal Democrat Education Association[21] teachers' unions,[22][23] the Campaign for Science and Engineering,[24] the Institute of Education[25] and Sir Peter Newsam, former Chief Schools Adjudicator.[26] The element of the Act which eliminates the requirement for there to be local consultation was criticised as undemocratic by education lawyers and the National Governors' Association.[27][28] The National Grammar Schools Association warned grammar schools against becoming academies, saying that "there are fears that academies may not be legally defined as 'maintained' schools, in which case they may lose the statutory protection of requiring a parental ballot before they are turned into comprehensive schools."[29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Academies Act 2010 (Commencement and Transitional Provisions) Order 2010 SI 2010/1937
  2. ^ a b c d e "Q&A: Academies and free schools". BBC News Online. 26 May 2010.
  3. ^ Baker, Mike (31 July 2010). "Gove's academies: 1980s idea rebranded?". BBC News Online.
  4. ^ a b "Schools are promised an academies 'revolution'". BBC News Online. 26 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Academies Bill". Department for Education. Archived from the original on 10 July 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010. The Bill extends to England and Wales but only has application to England. While sections of the Bill do technically extend to Wales, the effect of the provisions will only permit an Academy to be established in England, so it will have no practical impact on, or application to, the organisation of schools in Wales.
  6. ^ "Academy bids from 70% of top secondary schools - Gove". BBC News Online. 17 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Would-be academy list published". BBC News Online. 25 June 2010.
  8. ^ Vaughan, Richard (2 July 2010). "Wealthy to dominate academies". The Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  9. ^ Shepherd, Jessica; Wintour, Patrick (29 July 2010). "Michael Gove's academy plan under fire as scale of demand emerges". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  10. ^ Coughlan, Sean (1 September 2010). "First wave of 32 new-style academies open this week". BBC News Online.
  11. ^ Coughlan, Sean (6 January 2011). "Academy school numbers 'double'". BBC News Online.
  12. ^ Harrison, Angela (17 July 2010). "Academies Bill 'rushed through' claim". BBC News Online.
  13. ^ "'Ample time' for Academies Bill, says Michael Gove". BBC News Online. 19 July 2010.
  14. ^ Glover, Julian (26 July 2010), "Labour reacts to Michael Gove's academies bill like a childhood nightmare", The Guardian, archived from the original on 29 July 2010, retrieved 5 August 2010
  15. ^
  16. ^ Daley, Janet (24 July 2010), "Michael Gove can earn the gratitude of a generation", Daily Telegraph, archived from the original on 12 August 2010, retrieved 5 August 2010
  17. ^ Riddell, Mary; Young, Toby (17 June 2010), "Mary Riddell v Toby Young: Education debate", Daily Telegraph, archived from the original on 20 June 2010, retrieved 29 June 2010
  18. ^ Smithers, Alan (24 June 2010). "Letting schools do their own thing is a recipe for chaos". The Independent. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  19. ^ "Academies Bill will create irreversible religious divisions in the schools system". British Humanist Society. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  20. ^ "Governing bodies should have community representation". Edexec. 14 June 2010. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "NUT News - Academies Bill – an undemocratic outrage! - Special Edition July 2010". National Union of Teachers. Archived from the original on 16 July 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  23. ^ "NASUWT comments on Government's Academies bill". NASUWT. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  24. ^ Shepherd, Jessica (25 July 2010). "Academies will leave pupils 'unprepared for modern life', say critics". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 29 July 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  25. ^ Richardson, Hannah (22 July 2010). "Free schools 'could widen social divide'". BBC. Archived from the original on 7 August 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  26. ^ Vaughan, Richard (2 July 2010). "Bill has 'hallmarks of Germany in the 1930s'". The Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  27. ^ Shepherd, Jessica (6 June 2010). "Academies bill is anti-democratic, lawyers warn". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  28. ^ "'Parents must be consulted on academies'". National Governors Association. 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  29. ^ "Grammars are advised against becoming academies". BBC News Online. 23 June 2010.