Region's Schools Buy into Blair's Vision
Byline: By Shahid Naqvi Education Correspondent
Nine schools in the West Midlands are to pilot becoming Tony Blair's flagship vision of a new type of privately-backed trust school operating outside local authority control.
The schools are among 28 nationally chosen to be the first to adopt the controversial quasi-independent status allowing them to set their own admission arrangements.
But with Mr Blair's survival as Prime Minister under question last night, Britain's biggest teaching union warned a policy U-turn may be around the corner.
Five of the new schools are to be based in Worcestershire, three in Dudley and one in Birmingham.
They will operate under charitable status backed by external partners - such as businesses or universities - with influence over the management and curriculum of the school.
Ministers believe their "energy, experience and talents" can be used to boost attainment and ultimately intends every school in the country to adopt trust status.
Education Secretary Alan Johnson said: "Providing a lasting link between schools and external expertise helps to raise standards - specialist schools and academies have proved this.
"The 28 trust pathfinder projects being named today are about using the ideas, energy and talent that exists in voluntary groups, charities, universities and business foundations to help more young people fulfil their potential."
Mr Johnson added greater freedom given to trust schools would allow them better to shape the "direction and ethos of their school".
The National Union of Teachers, however, attacked the move.
It claimed creation of trust schools will destroy collaboration between headteachers.
Bill Anderson, deputy general secretary of the Birmingham NUT, said: "We are going down the old grant-maintained route.
"Certain schools are really taking this route to gain market advantage for themselves without regard for the overall learning and provision for the children of Birmingham.
"They have to realise if they go out of the authority it will almost certainly generate if not hostility a careful consideration by other schools whether they can co-operate with them. …