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Radio 5Live's Education Correspondent Lesley Ashmall
reports from Kings College on its first day
 real 28k

Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Private state school starts work
The new entrance hall (Photo: 3E's)
The first privately-run state school in the UK opened to pupils on Wednesday.

The former Kings' Manor School in Guildford, Surrey, has become Kings College of the Arts and Technology.

It is still owned by Surrey County Council, but its running has been handed over for 10 years to 3E's Enterprises, a subsidiary of the successful and oversubscribed Kingshurst City Technology College, Solihull.

During the last year 3E's has extensively refurbished the school buildings with 1.6m of council money, incorporating new technology in an effort to improve educational standards.

The sixth form will not be doing A-levels but the International Baccalaureate.

Another innovation is the replacement of the lunch hour with separate brunch and lunch breaks.

Performance targets

3E's gets a management fee and performance-related bonuses for meeting targets on test results, recruiting pupils and reducing truancy. It calls Kings College a "blueprint for the 21st Century".

Dr Andrew Povey
Dr Andrew Povey: 'Watching with great interest'
Surrey's education chairman, Dr Andrew Povey, said: "It seems a long time since we awarded the contract to 3E's but the council is delighted that the new college has come to fruition.

"We will be watching its progress with great interest and supporting and helping in its success."

The old Kings' Manor had been in decline for two decades, with pupil numbers falling to less than half its capacity.

It was judged to be failing by schools inspectors.

Rather than close the school, Surrey came up with the idea of contracting it out to the private sector.

Ministers agreed, drawing a distinction between a company being paid a reasonable management fee, and making a profit out of state education.

The School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, has indicated that she would be happy to see other failing schools follow suit.

'Root and branch change'

Kings College principal, David Crossley, was for six years head teacher of Cirencester Deer Park Technology College, which was commended by the Office for Standards in Education for its outstanding inspection report.

He has spent the last three years setting up and running the Jerudong International School in Brunei.

science class
Pupil numbers dwindled at the old school

He said decided to accept the post of Kings College principal because he believed in "what the 3E's were trying to do".

"It's no good having a superficial change, you need a root and branch change," he said.

"By starting again in the way this school is, you are able to achieve a lot more.

"I think the private company involvement creates a 'can-do' approach. It also has real expertise, and has been involved in the running of some very successful schools."

Mr Crossley said the LEA was also "very committed" to the success of the new school, as were parents and the community.

"We are embarking on a journey. We want all our students to achieve more than they expect to, but before we see an improvement in results, we want them to be able to go home and say 'We go to a good school'."

'Very special education'

Stanley Goodchild, managing director of the 3E's, told BBC Radio5Live: "This is not all about making money.

"3E's is a non profit-making organisation. What we're after is passing on transferrable skills to makre sure this school gives the children in this area the best possible education that it can."

He said the company had recruited a staff of enthusiastic teachers from all over the world, and could ensure that "within a year or so", standards would rise dramatically.

"I think the children here are going to get a very special education," he said.

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See also:

22 Mar 00 | Education
Private firms could run more schools
15 Mar 00 | Education
Anger at scheme for failing schools
14 Oct 99 | Education
Privately-run state school approved
10 Mar 00 | Correspondents
Seeking profit in state schools
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