Backers no longer need up-front funds of £2m but only skills to run a school

The government is attempting to speed up its academies programme by changing the rules about sponsorship.

As the 200th academy was opened, it was revealed that potential backers will no longer have to provide up-front funds of £2m. They will instead have to prove “the necessary skills and leadership” to run such an organisation.

The change is intended to accelerate the school-building programme and comes a month after right-wing think tank Centre for Policy Studies criticised the “slow progress” of the academies model.

Cornwallis Academy
Cornwallis Academy is one of the latest academies planned; work on site starts this month

However, the milestone of 200 schools is now a year ahead of target and there are plans to open a further 200.

New schools due to open for the new school year today include the City Academy in Hackney, sponsored by the City of London Corporation and KPMG, and the Health Academy in Manchester, sponsored by the local NHS trust.