Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Give Us Inside Story on Schools' MP in Plea to Council on City Academies

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Give Us Inside Story on Schools' MP in Plea to Council on City Academies

Article excerpt

Byline: By Neil McKay

AN MP yesterday urged education bosses to do their homework before pressing ahead with three controversial academies.

Durham County Council is advertising for sponsors "keen to explore the joint development" of proposed academy schools in Durham City, Consett and Stanley.

Academies are sponsored by businesses, faith groups or charities who contribute up to pounds 2m and have a say in how the school is run.

The county council says it already has 10 applications from organisations wanting to sponsor academies.

But Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods claimed education bosses were withholding information from the public about potential sponsors.

She said: "It is a shame that more information about academies and potential sponsors has not been put into the public domain by the county council before various public meetings have discussed the issue.

"Indeed, the list of potential sponsors is much wider than the focus of the meetings I have attended suggests.

"Academies are just one method of raising standards and the county council needs to do more work to establish whether they are, in fact, the right way forward for Durham and having a list of potential sponsors is part of that judgment."

She added: "I do not think that academies should be ruled out, but time needs to be taken to make sure we make the right decision about this potential opportunity to provide first class education facilities in a new academy."

But Sheila Palmerley, school places strategy manager for the county council, said: "The reason we have advertised now is so that potential sponsors could come on board early and shape the things that we are discussing now.

"We have put our stall out and have been very open about what we are doing."

Coun Claire Vasey, Durham County Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services, said the authority was keen to explore the possibility of joint sponsorship, with the council offering up to half the necessary finance. …

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