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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 June, 2004, 02:41 GMT 03:41 UK
Push for private school sponsors
children's feet
The academies need 2m in sponsorship each
Ministers have been meeting the heads of private schools and other bodies interested in sponsoring new academies.

The government is keen to involve independent schools in the setting up or running of academies - a new type of semi-independent state school.

More meetings with head teachers and other potential sponsors are planned for later this summer.

Many heads are said to be keen to work with the state sector but some are said to be sceptical.

At least 14 academies are being developed with the backing of independent schools or the companies which run them.

The independent schools will not necessarily put money into the academies, which each require at least 2m in sponsorship.

'Two-way exchange'

Next week Schools Minister David Miliband will make a speech on building partnerships between the state and independent sectors.

In an article for the latest edition of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses Conference magazine, Mr Miliband encouraged independent schools to consider sponsorship.

"We hope that, in time, academies will bring benefits to partner independent schools by providing new vocational options, sports and special educational needs provision," he wrote.

Marlborough College in Wiltshire has expressed an interest in what it calls a collaboration with a school in Swindon.

It is in talks with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

The master of Marlborough, Edward Gould, says many independent schools are keen to work with the state sector.

"Many independent schools are interested in being seen as part of the education division for people in England. It is a two-way exchange," he said.

"We are not telling people what to do. It's possible to offer help, thoughts and expertise."

The college will not be putting money into the venture.

"We don't have extra money to put in. We have the money we receive from parents and they pay taxes and we would not use that for the partnership," said Mr Gould.


Anthony Seldon, the head of Brighton College, said: "Most independent schools are very positive about wanting to have activities with state schools.

"But some independent schools are puzzled about what they will be offering apart from a brand name.

"Some are sceptical about giving more money and some heads feel the partnership is one-sided, but very few are not keen to work with the state sector."

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