The government's flagship academies programme is coming under increasing strain as teachers' leaders escalate strike action aimed at halting its expansion.
More than 1,000 children in Croydon, south London, were sent home yesterday as strike action by the National Union of Teachers shut five schools in a battle over setting up two new academies in the borough.
Meanwhile, the threat of strikes in Newham, east London, planned for today and tomorrow, led to a softening of the council's attitude towards replacing an existing comprehensive with a new academy.
Teachers' unions oppose academies, claiming they "privatise" the state system and remove schools from democratic controls. The escalation comes as the Government seeks to reach its target of setting up 400 institutions against a background of increasingly scarce private sponsors.