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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 August, 2004, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Academies getting results at GCSE
Bexley Academy
The new academies are a vanguard
Some of the new-style state schools set up with help from business have better GCSE results than the comprehensives they replaced.

The government has released GCSE figures from three of its new flagship academies in England.

All the schools, which were set up in deprived areas, showed remarkable improvements in results.

The government wants them to be models for about 200 new academies it wants to set up by 2010.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland there was a rise in the number of entries getting top grades at GCSE.

A total of 59.2% of entries were awarded grades between A* and C.

At the King's Academy in Middlesbrough, 34% of entries were passed with grades between A* to C.

That compared with figures of 14% for last year at Brakenhoe Comprehensive and 28% at Coulby Newham, the two schools the academy replaced.

Private sponsors

At Capital City Academy in north west London, the proportion of entries awarded C or better was 28%, compared with 12% when it was Willesden High School last year.

And at the Bexley Academy in south London, 35% of the entries were awarded A* to C grades.

The school replaced Thamesmead Community College in 2003, where the proportion had been 20%.

The academies are a new breed of school which have more independence than ordinary state schools.

They are set up with the support of private sponsors, who are then allowed to appoint the majority of governors and have a major influence over the ethos and direction of the schools.

The sponsors invest 2m in the academies, which are then built with public money. They can cost as much as 25m to build.

The academies do not have to follow the national curriculum and are free to vary the terms and conditions of teachers.

The first three academies opened in 2002 - and another nine opened the following year. There are currently plans for 53 academies to be open by 2007 - with 30 of these to be in London.

What these young people have achieved today has been little short of astonishing
Nigel McQuoid, principal, King's Academy
King's Academy in Middlesborough opened last September. It has been sponsored by the Vardy Foundation, a charity set up by multi-millionaire car dealer and evangelical Christian Sir Peter Vardy.

The principal Nigel McQuoid expelled 27 pupils, including 11 in the GCSE year, for bad behaviour.

He is delighted with the GCSE results: "What these young people have achieved today has been little short of astonishing."

The National Union of Teachers said that, while pupils from the academies were to be congratulated, other schools badly needed investment.

The union's general secretary Steve Sinnott said: "The Capital City Academy had an extra 30m. Many schools across the country would be delighted at such investment and pupils would benefit enormously.

"The government really needs to carry out a proper evaluation of the academy experiment before it rolls it out across the country, rather than simply asserting its success."

Not all new academies are celebrating rises in GCSE passes.

At the Greig City Academy in Haringey, north London, which opened in September 2002, the proportion of entries getting five good GCSES went down from 33% in 2003 to 28% this year.

A spokesman said a lot of new pupils arrived last year and that some students had done "extremely well", with three achieving 13 A*s and As.

The BBC's Mike Baker
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