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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 18:54 GMT
Teachers' fears over academy plan
Teachers have expressed fears over the introduction of academies as part of a reorganisation of a city's schools.

Teachers' unions met to discuss council plans to replace 17 Stoke-on-Trent high schools with 12 centres of excellence, including four academies.

Lynn Collins, of the National Union of Teachers, said there were concerns over staff pay as well as education standards at academies.

Stoke City councillor Ian McLaughlin said plans were still under discussion.

'Major concern'

Private firm Serco, which was brought in to run children's services in the city, has put together the 200m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.

Public consultation on the plans will be until 11 January and a decision is set to be made in February.

Mr McLaughlin, the city councillor in charge of education, said the "academies issue" had been a major concern at a union meeting in Hanley.

"I share their concerns because it's a step into the unknown," he said.

"It has been made clear by the government that we have to have academies as part of the offer.

"How many and where they are is still up for discussion."

Pay maintained

Ms Collins, NUT regional secretary for the Midlands, said academies were backed by sponsors, charities, philanthropists and other groups and were effectively outside the mainstream education system.

"In effect they are taken outside local authority control and there are concerns over how this will affect pay and conditions such as working hours and holidays," she said.

"There are also concerns over how this would affect standards of education."

Mr McLaughlin added it was his understanding there would be no detriment to teachers' pay and condition at the academies, as these had to be "equal or better".

He said the academies would be co-sponsored by the local authority, which would have a say in their running.


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