The critics claim they're creating a two tier system in our children's education. The Government maintains they're driving up standards.
Meridian can reveal that there are now ten times more academies than two years ago. All of which have control of their own finances and curriculum.
Across the South East hundreds of secondary schools have switched. Medway has the highest number, 15 out of 18 are now academies, that's 83 per cent.
In Kent, the country's largest education authority, the figure is 61 per cent. In neighbouring Sussex, the number is lower just over 20 per cent in Brighton.
John Ryall reports
John Ryall spoke to former pupil Jacqui Nicholls and Principal Phil Karnavas. He also spoke to pupils Elli Kingsford, Philip Parrett and Ells Coumbe. Alisdair Smith from the Anti-Academies Alliance contributed to this piece.
More top news
Rogue landlords are making life unbearable for tens of thousands of tenants in England, according to Shelter.
Wednesday's weather for the west of the region
Wednesday's weather for the east of the region