Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 14:50 UK

County backs JCB academy scheme

Tutbury Mill
The mill would be converted into a school to open in 2010

Digger maker JCB's plans for a 20m academy school have been backed by Staffordshire County Council.

The council has agreed to become educational guarantor for the JCB Academy which is planned to open at the firm's Rocester headquarters in 2010.

JCB wants to convert Tutbury Mill into a school specialising in manufacturing, engineering and commerce.

The council said the agreement "carried no financial liability" but covered educational aspects of the academy.

The facility would offer places to 540 students aged 14 to 19 from the county and Derbyshire who would be taught academic subjects as well as gain diplomas in vocational skills.

However, the proposal for the former cotton mill, built in 1781, has faced opposition from some historical societies.

'Dynamic and viable'

County councillor Peter Beresford said: "We are very happy to act as a guarantor for JCB's Academy plans.

"Put simply, this decision means that in the unlikely event of the Academy failing, we will step in and ensure that educational provision continues.

"However, this is purely a legal requirement, and we remain convinced that the JCB Academy Trust's plans are dynamic and viable."

Mr Beresford, cabinet leader for children and young people, added that he was convinced the JCB Academy would "enhance" the county's educational provision.

On Tuesday, East Staffordshire Borough Council referred the decision on whether the academy should go ahead to the government.

The county council then responded to the Department for Children, Schools and Families' call for a public sector guarantor. Academies are independent state schools which have outside partners, high levels of investment and greater autonomy.

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