More than 100 underperforming primary schools look set to be forcibly converted into academies.
Last week, sources close to education secretary Michael Gove briefed the Daily Telegraph that 100 schools which have fallen below targets for several years will be taken out of local authority hands this September, and run instead by academy chains.
A further 100 primaries are expected to follow by the end of 2012-13.
The Department for Education says that full details of the plan will be announced on Wednesday.
But Ark Schools told EducationInvestor that it expects to take over three or four primary schools. These include Bentworth Primary in Hammersmith, west London, which has agreed to re-open as a new Ark academy in September 2012.
The group is also consulting with two primary schools in Birmingham, with a view to taking them on this autumn.
New sponsor the Elliot Foundation, which hopes to be running 200 primary schools within four years, is also likely to take on some struggling schools.
Other sponsors said to be involved in the move include south London’s Harris Federation; and Oasis Community Learning, a Christian charity established in 2004.
Research published by the National College of School Leadership last week found that schools supported by chains of three or more schools outperformed standalone academies. It did not compare them to council-run schools, however.
A DfE spokeswoman told the Daily Telegraph: “This action could save thousands of pupils from a lifetime of under-achievement. Standards have been too low for too long.
“Under strong sponsorship, and with the freedoms needed to raise standards, schools in these communities will thrive with academy sponsors.”