Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 11:45 UK

Academy plans 'soon to be lodged'

Mark Meredith
Mark Meredith praised academy schools

Planning applications to build three academy schools in Stoke-on-Trent are expected to be put forward in the next few months, the city's mayor said.

The city council wants to open five such high schools as part of a major review of secondary education.

Mark Meredith said academies in Blurton and at James Brindley and St Peter's schools were in "the first phase".

Protests have been held over the closure of secondary schools and the changes to the system.

The city council is planning to cut the number of high schools from 17 to 13 as part of a major shake-up. The plan has been drawn up for a number of reasons, including falling pupil numbers and the poor condition of older school buildings.

Under the plans, eight schools - St Peter's, Mitchell, Berry Hill, James Brindley, Edensor, Trentham, Blurton and Brownhills - will merge into five academies.

'Great supporter'

Mr Meredith said plans for the three academies in the Trentham and Blurton area, James Brindley school, Tunstall, and St Peter's in Penkhull would soon be put forward.

He said: "All of these people in those local communities can expect a brand new school in the next three years."

Ormiston Education, part of a trust helping disadvantaged children, wants to be the sponsor of the academy to replace Trentham and Blurton high schools.

Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the Diocese of Lichfield have also expressed interest in being academy sponsors.

The elected city mayor added that he had always been a "great advocate and supporter" of the introduction of academies into Stoke.

'Passionate community'

"It's about extra investment, it's about bringing some outside expertise and the sponsors of academies can be wide-ranging," he said.

"And people are flooding into academies all across the country."

However, the education shake-up has been controversial and many protests have been held over the school closures.

On Sunday, protesters led by Save Trentham High Action Group made a human chain to express their opposition to the changes.

Daniel Jordan, chair of the group, said: "We have a passionate community, supportive parents, and the most successful non-selective school in the city.

"It beggars belief that the council still want it to close. This community will not allow that to happen."

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