Of the 249 schools listed in the DfE data as ‘sponsor-led’ academies, almost a third are run by chains. As Fiona Millar pointed out in the Guardian last summer, these are one of the fastest growing aspects of our new education landscape. The Oasis chain has grown from £3 million to £70 million between 2006 and 2010 and Ark from £3 million to £117.5 million. The E-act chain grew from £15.5 million to £60 million in just one year, from 2009 to 2010. (Since Fiona published this information, the chains have chosen to make their accounts private and so future figures will not be available.)
The chains appear to be strongly favoured by government. Toby Young, for instance, has commented that future free schools will only be able to get through government procedures if they are run by chains. E-act alone plans to run 126 schools by 2015. So how are the chains performing?
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