By Tim Donovan
Political Editor, BBC London
Boris Johnson wants his academies to become "community hubs"
The first academy backed by mayor Boris Johnson is to open in London next year, but his overtures to a second school have been rejected and there is so far little sign of support for his plans among London's boroughs.
Turin Grove, a secondary school in Edmonton, north London, is to change its status in September.
It is to be run by a charity, Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), with as yet unspecified financial support from the mayor's London Development Agency (LDA) in return for a focus on skills and training.
Head teacher Janet Lewis said it was too early to say what this would mean in practice.
"I hope that any direct involvement he would bring would be to the good," she said.
"I can't see that it would be otherwise but of course its very early days and we have not yet got into discussing what the curriculum may be like here.
"Certainly at the moment people are excited about the idea of the mayor being involved in a school in Enfield."
However, plans for a second academy in Sheen in west London - also run in partnership between the mayor and AET - have been rejected.
Richmond Council said it would be too complicated and bureaucratic to involve the mayor in Shene School.
Instead, the council wants AET to take it over alone.
Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, said the mayor's current model for targeting areas of deprivation and worklessness was not appropriate for the school nor its location.
She said: "If you look at what the mayor and the LDA have on offer for academies, it's really to provide regeneration for the community around the school.
"But you struggle to find a house around this school that's under three quarters of a million pounds. It isn't a regeneration area so there is a whole lot of rethinking to do."
'Wrong use of money'
There are 50 academies which do not have mayoral involvement already in the capital, and 10 more in the pipeline.
Some say the mayor's academy policy is problematic and he cannot bring significant benefit to the school table.
Several Conservative members of the London Assembly are among those opposed to his intervention in education.
One of them, Andrew Boff, said: "There aren't many policies of the mayor's with which I disagree, but this is one.
"It is for the boroughs to decide whether they want academies.
"Boroughs have proven that they can set up academy programmes themselves, so for the mayor to then spend money that should be going into skills training, when we have a severe skills shortage in London, I think is the wrong use of the money and we've told him that."
It was one of Boris Johnson's more surprising early promises.
During his first speech to the Conservative party conference as mayor, in October last year, he revealed plans to sponsor 10 new academies in the capital.
It was a venture into new territory.
While the mayor has influence over, and responsibility for, aspects of further education - the jobs and skills end of the spectrum - he has no powers over primary and secondary schooling. In theory anyway.
Mr Johnson found a way to navigate these water by instructing the London Development Agency to pursue the policy under its remit to tackle unemployment and promote regeneration in the capital.
The LDA did not agree without a struggle, insisting that the mayor issue a formal "direction" to make it a priority.
But it has now been asked to make £8m available for the schools.
David Triggs, chief executive of AET, said the LDA brought with it valuable links to different organisations, including City firms and other employers.
"There are three things the mayor wants to see," Mr Triggs said.
"One is about driving up attainment, looking for new qualifications that are relevant to the skills for employment and I think that is very important.
"The second is that they are really trying to ensure jobs and career opportunities.
"The third is that they want to see the school become a community hub."
Pamela Chesters, the mayor's youth adviser, denied the policy was in trouble and said several boroughs had approached them about opening an academy.
She said: "Boris passionately cares that the young people in London have the best possible opportunity to fulfil their potential.
"He believes that the LDA is a part of that equation and we should be innovative in trying to use it to make sure we maximise the potential that it can bring."