There are currently 23 all-age academies open that include primary provision. The Academies Bill will also open up the academies programme allowing all primary schools to apply to become academies in their own right. There has been a very high level of interest from schools with more than 250 outstanding primary schools already registering with the Department. We expect the first of those schools with an “outstanding” rating from Ofsted to open as academies from September 2010.
The Minister may recall that in the early years of grant-maintained status, secondary schools were able to opt out, but primary schools had to wait, although subsequently they found that the operation was relatively easy. Will he ensure that, this time, primary schools have the opportunity as quickly as other schools?
My hon. Friend will be pleased to see in the Academies Bill, which is receiving its Second Reading in another place, that primaries will be able to apply for academy status. Indeed, the 250 outstanding primaries that have registered an interest with the Department will be fast-tracked to that status by, I hope, this September.