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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
'Fresh start' school stays shut
David Blunkett
David Blunkett officially re-opened the school last year
A flagship "fresh start" school in north London has had to cancel the beginning of summer term.

Islington Arts and Media School says that it will not re-open until 15 May, almost two weeks late, as it seeks to retrain staff and reorganise the school timetable.

Pupils who are revising for exams are to attend classes in the morning, but the remainder have been given work to complete at home.

The privatised schools service in Islington, CEA@Islington, which has taken over from the local education authority, says that there is a "massive amount of work to be carried out" in the extended break.

It said improvements would follow when the school was reopened.

Torsten Friedag
Torsten Friedag, the first ever "superhead", resigned suddenly
This is the latest setback for the troubled school, launched last year as a showcase for the government's "fresh start" scheme, in which failing schools are closed and re-opened with a new name and new staff.

Only six months after the Education Secretary David Blunkett had reopened the school, the high-profile "superhead", Torsten Friedag, suddenly resigned from his 70,000 a year post.

Unruly behaviour

There have also been reports of unruly behaviour by pupils at the school and of disagreements among the staff and governors.

The school, formerly called George Orwell School, was closed last year after prolonged academic under-performance and a reluctance from local parents - including the Prime Minister, Tony Blair - to send their children there.

Despite its difficulties, the director of schools' services for CEA@Islington, Vincent McDonnell, says that more parents are now choosing the school as their first preference.

According to Mr McDonnell there are now four times as many parents seeking places for their children at the school than when it was George Orwell School.

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See also:

22 Oct 99 | Education
Failing school gets fresh start
10 Mar 00 | Education
First 'superhead' resigns
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