All State Secondary Schools to Get Private Money `by End of Decade'

Article excerpt

EVERY STATE secondary school will be either specialist or a privately sponsored city academy by the end of the decade, a senior government adviser disclosed yesterday.

The vision was spelt out by Sir Cyril Taylor, the chairman of the Specialist Colleges Trust and architect of Tony Blair's flagship specialist schools programme, in advance of a five-year plan for the future of education to be published by ministers next week.

It will mean that all 3,000 secondary schools in England will have some form of private sponsorship. Schools need to raise pounds 50,000 of private money before they can be granted specialist status.

The academies, whose number is expected to swell to 200 as a result of the blueprint, are run by private sponsors. They set up in struggling inner-city areas to replace failing schools.

The blueprint follows yesterday's announcement of a further 268 specialist schools in September, bringing the total number to 1,952 - well over half the secondary schools in the country.

Sir Cyril said he expected the number to rise to 2,900 within two years. "That will leave around 200 schools which will be swept up by the city academy programme," he said. "That will sweep up the failing schools so that - in the end - there will be no `bog- standard' comprehensives left.

"It will take five years after that to turn those schools round - but after that there should be no underperforming schools."

The shake-up will mean all secondary schools in England will receive some form of private sponsorship - be it from business, churches, charities or, ministers hope, parents banding together to back a bid for specialist status.

Sir Cyril's trust holds back sponsorship money centrally to help schools in deprived areas which would find it difficult to get private aid. …