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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Peer pumps cash into Moray school
Lord Laidlaw
Lord Laidlaw donates 1m a year to youth projects in Scotland
The business tycoon Lord Laidlaw is to donate funds to a state school in his home town of Keith, in Moray.

The peer has been in the public eye for his financial backing of inner city academies in England.

He is putting 40,000 into Keith Grammar which will allow pupils to learn more practical subjects.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Peter Peacock announced that 43 schools are in the running for extra funding under the Schools of Ambition scheme.

All but four councils have put forward bids. The winning secondaries will each receive an extra 100,000 a year while on the programme with further possible support from private backers.

Schools' vision

The money will be used to help them develop specialities in areas such as music, languages and sport.

Schools wanting to join were asked to spell out their vision, what steps would be taken to achieve a transformation and what the changes would mean for pupils and the wider community.

Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay is a Conservative peer and is ranked sixth in this year's Sunday Times "Rich List".

I firmly believe education is the key to transforming life chances and releasing the potential of our young people
Lord Laidlaw

He is said to have a personal worth of 498m and donates 1m a year to youth projects in Scotland.

Lord Laidlaw has turned a small US publishing company into the Institute for International Research, the world's largest conference organiser.

College links

BBC Scotland education correspondent Seonag Mackinnon said the Scottish Executive had described his donation to Keith Grammar as "part of Lord Laidlaw's commitment to helping them to modernise schools".

The money will pay for the development of links with local further education colleges to deliver subjects in school such as care, engineering, hairdressing and rural skills.

Pupils on the courses will have two days of lessons taught by school staff, two days of vocational lessons and one day on work placements with local businesses.

Keith Grammar School is in the middle of a pilot project which is being supported through the executive's Future Learning and Teaching (FLaT) programme.

Keith Grammar
Pupils at Keith Grammar will benefit from the funding

Lord Laidlaw said: "As someone who was born and brought up in Keith, I was interested to hear about the grammar school's innovative approach to vocational education.

"I firmly believe education is the key to transforming life chances and releasing the potential of our young people.

"I am pleased to be supporting Keith Grammar School's efforts to improve vocational education options."

Mr Peacock said: "The money which Lord Laidlaw is investing will allow the school to aim higher and to open up vocational opportunities for senior pupils so that they can develop their talents."

Lord Laidlaw has pumped 2m into an inner city academy in the north of England but has expressed disappointment at the "wariness" in Scotland of introducing such schools.

Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, has said that sponsors are not elected and there is a danger that the executive could feel answerable to those who provide financial support.

Potential Schools of Ambition
Aberdeen City: Northfield Academy, St Machar Academy
Aberdeenshire: Fraserburgh Academy
Angus: Arbroath Academy, Brechin High
Argyll and Bute: Islay High
Dumfries and Galloway: Dumfries Academy, Castle Douglas High, Wallace Hall Academy
Dundee City: Braeview Academy, St John`s RC High, Morgan Academy
East Ayrshire: Doon Academy
East Dunbartonshire: St Ninian`s High, Campsie View School
East Lothian: Preston Lodge High, Ross High, Dunbar Grammar
East Renfrewshire: Barrhead High
Edinburgh City: Craigroyston High
Falkirk: Braes High
Fife: Buckhaven High, Kirkland High
Glasgow City: Rosshall Academy, St Paul`s High, Springburn Academy, Castlemilk High/St Margaret Mary
Highland: Inverness High
Midlothian: Newbattle High School
Moray: Lossiemouth High
North Ayrshire: Ardrossan Academy
North Lanarkshire: Cardinal Newman High
Perth & Kinross: Blairgowrie High
Renfrewshire: Linwood High
Scottish Borders: Hawick High
Shetland Isles: Anderson High, Scalloway Junior High
South Ayrshire: Carrick Academy
South Lanarkshire: Learning community around Lanark Grammar, taking in 12 establishments
Stirling: St Modan`s RC High
West Dunbartonshire: Our Lady and St Patrick`s High
West Lothian: Burnhouse School

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