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Academy will set benchmark for state schools

PUBLISHED: 11:43 17 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 07 September 2010

THE new academy in Swiss Cottage will force the rest of Camden s state schools to raise their game , shadow education spokesman Michael Gove said on a visit to the area. Conservative Mr Gove said last Thursday that the new academy sponsored by Universit

THE new academy in Swiss Cottage will force the rest of Camden's state schools to "raise their game", shadow education spokesman Michael Gove said on a visit to the area.

Conservative Mr Gove said last Thursday that the new academy sponsored by University College London will improve education across the borough.

He also outlined his party's plans for secondary education including longer school days, including school on Saturdays, setting up residential academies and giving schools the freedom to decide on teacher pay.

Speaking at a meeting in England's Lane, Mr Gove said: "The partnership with UCL will raise the level of aspirations and more and more people in Camden will go to universities.

"I am a great supporter of the academy programme and I am really glad the campaign against academies has been faced down.

"Academies will force local authority-run schools to raise their game. Just because schools' intake is from children with challenging backgrounds does not mean they can't achieve.

"We know many children who don't have English as a first language can do brilliantly, children who are on free school meals can do brilliantly. Throwing up our hands and saying 'we can't expect much of them' is writing these children off."

While welcoming the new school, which is set to be built by 2011, Mr Gove also paid tribute to Conservative councillor Andrew Mennear's work to improve Camden's schools.

And he said it was the government, rather than local authorities, which was responsible for failing to improve education standards.

"You know a good school when you see its headteacher is respected, there is discipline and good behaviour, teachers who love their subjects and inspire children to love history, maths, science," he continued. "One of the concerns I have is that we don't have a curriculum or an education system which allows teachers to pass on this love of their subject.

"Academies have freedom over their curriculum and over what they pay staff so they can award good teachers.

"Once a local authority school reaches a particular threshold - gets a better Ofsted rating - they should be able to get those academy freedoms."

Mr Gove vowed that a Conservative government would introduce those freedoms as well as continuing with the academy programme which has "stalled" under Gordon Brown's premiership.

He also said the programme could go further, leading to residential academies which would act as state boarding schools.

He dismissed claims that the credit crunch was putting off potential academy sponsors, and said he had been speaking to several companies willing to donate.


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