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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
Union opposes academy proposals
Emmanuel College
The foundation sponsors Emmanuel College in Gateshead
A campaign has been launched to block plans for two privately-funded academy schools in Northumberland.

The fundamentalist Christian Emmanuel School Foundation and the Duke of Northumberland are proposed sponsors of academies in Blyth and Ashington.

Teachers union the NASUWT says there needs to be more public consultation over the proposals.

But Northumberland County Council has defended the plans, saying public consultation has yet to begin.

Public debate

The Emmanuel School Foundation is headed by Sir Peter Vardy who already runs Emmanuel College in Gateshead and two other schools in Middlesbrough and Doncaster.

NASUWT spokesman Geoff Holmes said head teachers and governors do not necessarily support the opening of academies, and that there needed to be more public debate.

However, Trevor Doughty, Director of Children Services at Northumberland County Council, said: "I think it's very disappointing that the union should highlight that because they know very well that consultation is yet to start.

"The academies both in Blyth and Ashington are proposals at the moment and they are subject to consultation."

A public meeting will be held at the Phoenix Theatre in Blyth on Thursday evening to discuss the plans.

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