ONLY a handful of the region’s schools are likely to become ‘academies’ in September it has been revealed.

Across England, as few as 50 state schools will be ready to opt out of local authority supervision - setting their own curriculum, teaching hours and pay rates - a government adviser revealed.

The slow progress will disappoint Education Secretary Michael Gove, who wrote to hundreds of head teachers in May, urging them to consider opening as academies “as early as September 2010”.

At least 33 schools in the North-East and North Yorkshire contacted the department for education to express an interest in making the switch immediately.

And more than 100 schools in the region are eligible to be ‘fast-tracked’ for academy status by September, after being judged “outstanding” by Ofsted.

The Academies Bill is being rushed through the Commons within days - a speed normally reserved for anti-terror legislation - in order to allow a huge expansion in time for the new school year.

That timetable triggered clashes in the Commons today, amid Labour accusations that the legislation was not being properly scrutinised - despite turning state education on its head.

Outside parliament, hundreds of teachers, parents and children protested at Mr Gove’s decision to axe the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme, including 79 projects across the North-East.

Among more than 20 teachers from the region was Mark Edmundson, a teacher at Consett Community Sports College, where plans for a £26m new academy have been plunged into uncertainty.

Pat Glass, the North West Durham MP, is seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Gove, after the scheme - designed to replace both the sports college and Moorside Community Technology College - was among those put under review.

After a protest rally, Mr Edmundson said the NASUWT opposed replacing the two schools with an academy, because it would allow the sponsors to set its own pay, conditions and curriculum.

But he said: “We do want a new school. Our worst fear is that we will end up with two separate sites and pupils having to travel between those two sites.”

In the Commons, Ed Balls, the shadow Education Secretary, said the BSF programme was being scrapped to divert cash into the academies programme and ‘free schools’, sponsored by teachers and parents.

But Mr Gove told MPs he was completing Tony Blair’s thwarted school plans, saying of academies: “The cure for your cynicism is to visit them.”

He insisted there was “ample time” for scrutiny of the Bill, adding: “It gives more freedom to teachers and it injects a new level of dynamism into a programme that has been proven to raise standards for children - and the disadvantaged most of all.”

Asked about the adviser’s suggestion, in The Times newspaper, that only 50 academies would be approved for September, a department for education (Dfe) spokesman said: “It’s too early to put a number on it.”