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Government investigates academies scheme

The government has revealed that it is to review its academies programme amid concerns that the scheme is failing the most disadvantaged pupils.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has claimed that the forthcoming review is a ‘matter of course’ after today’s Guardian reported that an ‘urgent review’ of the programme had been called for.

A spokesman for the DCSF said: ‘The Guardian has overblown the review. It is simply a matter of course and there is no suggestion that the scheme will be slowed down or brought to a halt.

‘This is a big government policy and it is only right that we hold these reviews. You can be sure if we didn’t someone else would – it’s just good housekeeping.’

The government has come under pressure recently to justify the billions of pounds it has spent on secondary schools over the last decade.

According to the Guardian, figures from a recent Lancaster University Management School GCSE study show that while grades have improved between 1992 and 2006, this is mainly due to 'grade inflation', not government initiatives.

The report also found that the specialist schools programme was mostly directed at children from better-off families.

First unveiled in 2000, the academies scheme aims to deliver 400 specialist schools, 200 of which will be established by 2010.

The delivery of the programme was recently taken on by Partnerships for Schools, which is also overseeing the government’s £45 billion Building Schools for the Future initiative.

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