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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Academy call for private schools
Blair school trip
Tony Blair travelled by helicopter on a farewell tour of schools
Private schools are being urged to take part in the government's project to create 400 academies in England.

As Tony Blair took part in a whirlwind visit to schools across the country, a new prospectus was published inviting participation in the academy scheme.

Academies have private backers and are outside council control but conform to admissions rules and charge no fees.

So far two private schools have "opted in" to the state system this way, and the prospectus urges others to do so.

"High performing independent day schools are eligible to be considered for academy status where they can increase the supply of high quality school places serving diverse communities," it says.

"Two such schools have now become academies - Belvedere School in Liverpool, and William Hulme Grammar School in Manchester.

"The government would welcome other suitable independent schools wishing to join the programme."


By autumn 2007, there will be 80 academies open - with another 50 expected to open by autumn 2008.

This is in spite of opposition from education unions and a growing anti-academies campaign.

A Commons motion put down by Labour MP Ken Purchase complains that the programme "is diverting tax payers' funds into the hands of super-rich sponsors, most of whom have no record of successful education management".

Among the types of academy set out by the Department for Education and Skills prospectus are "academy federations", where stronger schools support weaker schools; private schools adopting academy status and "all-through academies", in which schools take pupils from the age of three upwards.

Another element of Tony Blair's education legacy is the drive for schools to adopt "trust" status - in which schools and groups of schools have greater autonomy and can co-operate with outside organisations though there is no financial sponsorship.

The government announced that 200 schools were seeking trust status - which it says is ahead of projections.

The latest target is now to have 300 schools either converted or on track for trust status by the end of the year.

The 10,000 offered to "early adopters" to support their application to become a trust has been extended until October.

Universities and further education colleges are working with these trusts - and other organisations include Microsoft, the Co-operative group, Unilever and Barnardos.

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