This led me to look back at the article I wrote as recently as September 2012, pointing out the increase in both the number of academies, free schools, UTCs and Studio Schools; and the size of the some of the academy chains in the UK. I've updated some figures below (and discovered in passing that I'd missed out the biggest academy chain!).
The figures should provide more thought for parents, private schools and of course for other schools who are going to have to compete with chains - perhaps sooner than expected! From a marketing viewpoint, the central offices of these chains are now employing a significant number of marketing professionals - as the quality of their websites alone shows!
New types of state school:
1. To 1 May 2013, 2976 schools have applied to become academies (there were around 2300 open in September)
2. In September there were 79 Free Schools. In September 2013, 190 are expected to be open - the new approvals suggest there will be 292 by September 2014
3. University Technical Colleges are also springing up. There were just 5 open in September - there will be 17 next year and 32 in 2014.
4. There are currently 15 Studio Schools. There will be 42 by 2014.
The rise of the chains:
1. The current largest chain is the Academies Enterprise Trust. I counted 68 schools on its website. According to the Local Schools Network it had 20 schools at the start of 2012.
2. The biggest winner in today's Free School announcement, the Harris Federation, has 19 schools at present, but will expand to at least 26 as a result.
3. Other large chains are growing. ARK Schools ran 18 schools in September 2012 -its website reports that it 'expects to be running 25-30 schools by 2013'. E-Act has grown from 28 in September to 31 today and United Learning from 31 to 34 in the same time. Oasis Community Learning now has 28 schools.
4. Local chains are growing in size. One of the most well-known, the SW-based Cabot Learning Federation now has 10 schools (plus one under construction).
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