Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Defies MPs to Create 'Trust' Schools

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Defies MPs to Create 'Trust' Schools

Article excerpt

. TONY BLAIR today faced down Labour critics as he set out his "irreversible" plans to establish a new generation of independent state schools.

The Prime Minister used a speech in Downing Street to declare the reforms a "pivotal moment" for his government.

The Education White Paper contains plans to free comprehensive schools from town hall control, similar to city academies, sponsored by charities and big business.

But the proposals have been savaged by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who told a Cabinet meeting last week that Labour was deserting children in inner-city schools.

Mr Blair today batted aside the criticisms at a meeting with parents in Downing Street. In an uncompromising message to Labour MPs threatening to block the changes, he said: "We want every school to be able quickly and easily to become a self-governing, independent state school. The system will be opened up to real parent power with irreversible and self-sustaining reforms."

Mr Blair and Education Secretary Ruth Kelly will encourage comprehensives to become "trust schools" - similar to the Tories' grant-maintained schools abolished by Labour in 1998.

Rail union calls strike ballot over ticket-office staff cuts .

TICKET-OFFICE staff at South Eastern Trains - London's busiest commuter operator - are to be balloted for strike action in a row over job cuts.

Union chiefs say the cuts will leave many stations unmanned for long periods, making them less safe for passengers. The union highlighted the case of a woman savagely raped by two men on the platform at Margate station last month. She eventually managed to stagger to the main concourse to summon help from staff.

Leaders of the moderate Transport and Salaried Staffs Association, the rail industry's second largest union, expect overwhelming support for strike action. …

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