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Do academy schools really work?

The new government has just promised 2,000 more academy schools. Is this a sensible policy? Despite the huge sums invested by Labour, their performance has been patchy

By Lisa Freedman   March 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls, open the City Academy, Hackney

Twenty-five teenagers are silently studying in a bright classroom. The headmaster enters and they rise to their feet, immaculate in their grey uniforms. “Good afternoon, sir,” they chorus.

It’s a scene out of a Ladybird book, but this is Mossbourne Academy, a secondary school in a part of Hackney, east London, dubbed “murder mile” for its gang killings. Mossbourne was one of the first “academies”—the new type of school aimed at the educational underclass.

The school Mossbourne replaced, Hackney Downs…

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