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Volume 491: debated on Thursday 30 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent assessment his Department has made of progress on the academy programme in (a) Kettering and (b) England. (271076)

The plans for two new Academies in Kettering, one of which will replace Henry Gotch Primary School and Ise Community College and another which will replace Avondale Infants School, Avondale Junior School and Montagu Foundation School, are progressing well and we expect them to open in September 2009. The Academy programme in England continues to expand towards our commitment of a total of 400.

Academies are leading the way in reducing low attainment with the 2008 GCSE results showing that performance continues to improve faster than the national average. The latest 2008 independent evaluation of the Academies programme by PricewaterhouseCoopers said that

‘Ofsted reinforces our conclusion that, overall, sponsorship contributes significantly to school improvement’

and that

‘the quality of leadership is generally very good’.