News story

Focus on struggling schools

Prime Minister vows to turn around 400 more of the weakest primaries - keeping up the pace on education reforms and driving up standards.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

As part of the Government’s determination to keep up momentum on education reform and drive up standards, the Prime Minister is announcing today that Government will turn around 400 more of the weakest primary schools.

Speaking ahead of a special Cabinet meeting at one of England’s leading academies, the Prime Minister said that by the end of next year, 400 more struggling primary schools would be paired up with sponsors to convert them into Academies.

David Cameron said:

The driving mission for this Government is to build an aspiration nation, where we unlock and unleash the promise in all our people. A first class education system is absolutely central to that vision.

We have seen some excellent progress with our reforms, including turning 200 of the worst performing primary schools into sponsored academies, and opening more academies in the last two years than the previous Government opened in a decade.

Time and time again we have seen how academies with their freedom to innovate, inspire and raise standards are fuelling aspirations and helping to spread success.

So now we want to go further, faster, with 400 more under-performing primary schools paired up with a sponsor and either open or well on their way to becoming an Academy by the end of next year.

It is simply not good enough that some children are left to struggle in failing schools, when they could be given the chance to shine.

In May 2010 there were just 203 Academies, all of them sponsored, and all of them secondary schools.

In summer 2011 - with 1,310 primary schools below the minimum acceptable level of performance, the Government said it would no longer tolerate a system in which so many pupils leave primary school without a good grasp of English and maths.

It pledged to turn 200 of the worst primary schools into sponsored academies - an aim that will be achieved by 1 January 2013.

And now, the Government is pledging to go even further and faster and agree a sponsored academy for a further 400 of the worst performing primary schools by the end of next year.

What is an academy?

Academies are publicly-funded independent schools that provide a first-class education and benefit from greater freedoms to innovate and raise standards. These include:

  • freedom from local authority control
  • the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff
  • freedoms around the delivery of the curriculum
  • the ability to change the lengths of terms and school days


Academies that are set up to replace underperforming schools will generally have a sponsor.

Sponsors come from a wide range of backgrounds including successful schools, businesses, universities, charities and faith bodies.

Find out more on the Department of Education website.

Published 12 November 2012