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500,000 primary pupils in academies

More than half a million primary school pupils are now being taught in academies, according to government figures.

New data released by the Department for Education (DfE) show that 1,983 primaries now have academy status.

Academies are semi-independent state schools free from local council control with power over areas such as the curriculum and teachers pay.

The scheme was first set up under Tony Blair's Labour government as part of a bid to raise standards in schools in the most disadvantaged areas of England.

It was extended by the coalition government, with all schools now allowed to apply for academy status and a greater push to turn failing schools into sponsored academies to improve their performance.

The latest figures show that around one in eight primaries (almost 12%) in England now have academy status, collectively teaching over half a million pupils.

There has been a 25% jump in the number of primaries converting to become academies in the last six months, the DfE said.

Of the primary schools that have taken on academy status, 1,340 have converted, while 570 were schools that the DfE said had long records of under-performance and have been taken over to become sponsored academies.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "I want all children to leave primary school literate and numerate. Academies are helping us achieve that goal."

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