Academies were originally introduced to improve schools that were under-performing, however the focus has now shifted to schools that are performing well and are able to share their good practices. Numbers of academies have increased significantly in recent years and this is likely to continue.

Academies are charitable companies limited by guarantee and are independent, state-funded schools. They are not maintained by a local authority, but have their capital and running costs met by central government. As such, they still have to adhere to some of the Department for Education (DfE) statutory guidance.

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