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Education Secretary, David Blunkett
"The schools will serve deeply deprived areas"
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Friday, 15 September, 2000, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
'City academies' to tackle school failure
Existing city technology colleges do well
The Church of England, businesses and an education services company are among the first sponsors of the government's new "city academies", intended to replace failing inner-city comprehensives.

The first three academies, expected to open in September 2001, will be in Brent, north London - specialising in sport - and in Lambeth, south London, and Liverpool where academies will specialise in technology.

For too long, too many children have been failed by poorly-performing schools which have served to reinforce inequality of opportunity and disadvantage

David Blunkett, Education Secretary

This is the latest attempt to overcome educational underachievement in deprived areas - after the lack of success of the "fresh start" scheme, in which failing schools were closed and then re-launched with a new identity.

Under the city academy initiative, sponsors will invest in the building or modernisation of the premises while the state meets essential running costs.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, says the city academies will build on the success of specialist schools, which have pushed up exam results. They will also build on the experience of city technology colleges, introduced by the previous Conservative government.

Launching the scheme in Sheffield, the education secretary called on industry to show "civic pride" and to support a network of city academies, which will be a central element in urban regeneration schemes.

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"For too long, too many children have been failed by poorly-performing schools which have served to reinforce inequality of opportunity and disadvantage," said Mr Blunkett.

"City academies will create new opportunities for business, the voluntary sector and central and local government to work together to break this cycle and improve the life chances of inner city children."

The Brent academy is backed by Frank Lowe, chairman of the Lowe Group advertising agency and of Octagon sports marketing - whose clients include the Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova.

It will replace Willesden High School, which has some of the worst GCSE results in the UK.

The academy in Lambeth is sponsored by CfBT Education Services, a "not-for-profit" company providing services to schools and education authorities.

The Liverpool academy is sponsored by the Church of England, which has been looking to expand its involvement in secondary schools, and local businesses including Marconi and BT.

All three academies are also supported by their local education authorities.

Mr Blunkett said he was pleased by the response to the scheme that there had been from the business and voluntary sectors, and the "constructive approach" of councils in seeing how their areas might benefit.

When he announced the idea of the city academies in March, however, local education authorities were upset at the suggestion that they would be left out.

Teachers' unions and the Conservatives said it amounted to an admission that previous initiatives were not working.

In Brent, where one of the academies is to be sited, teachers have questioned the benefits of the proposals.

Secretary of the Brent Teachers Association, Hank Roberts, said the proposals showed that the Labour party was a "bigger advocate and supporter of privatising education than the Tories".

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15 Mar 00 | Education
Anger at scheme for failing schools
15 Mar 00 | Education
Ex-superhead backs 'academies' scheme
15 Mar 00 | Correspondents
City academy, US-style
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