A number of countries have implemented various policies in an attempt to boost the performance of state-maintained schools. This column looks at the latest of these – the academies programme in England. Compared with reforms in other countries, the scale and pace of the academies programme is unprecedented. So far, academy attendance has led to gains in achievement, and the increase in autonomy has enabled schools to boost performance. It is too early, however, to tell whether the early success of sponsored academies will translate into success for the wider programme.