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Angeratacademy plan for inner-city schools; PROPOSAL: Vote against merger and new place in learning quarter.

Byline: By Fiona Scott, POLITICAL EDITOR

GOVERNORS are rebelling over plans tocreate one of Tony Blair's academies by merging two inner-city schools.

Last night, governors at Sidney Stringer School in Hillfields voted against merging their school with Barrs Hill and turning it into a city academy.

A majority were "not minded to support" the council's proposal to merge both schools and build a new one in the Swanswell learning quarter. It is understood most objected to both the merger and to the proposal that the new school be a city academy with an outside sponsor.

Rob Windsor, vice-chairman of governors and a Socialist, said the council doesn't need their permission to go ahead with the scheme. The former city councillor said: "The key concerns put forward were not just about city academies, but about two secondary schools merging on a smaller site, with very little space to do anything.

"The sports facilities will be contained in a city-wide sports centre and students from Sidney Stringer will have to trog across there to PE lessons, which to me raises safety risks as it's not an enclosed school site. We didn't want to merge schools anyway - we were happy for both schools to carry on as separate entities."

Mr Windsor said governors also felt they didn't know enough about the track record of the potential sponsor.

Cabinet member for children's services John Blundell said he understood that the reason behind last night's vote was that the governors did not feel they had enough information at this stage.

He said: "The council has already promised further, more specific consultation on the issue at the stage when a sponsor has been finalised and an expression of interest has been approved by the government.

"The city council will consider the views of the governors and all other responses to the consultation in coming to a decision. Ultimately the council needs to decide what is in the best interests of children, young people and the community."

The council is talking to Reading-based educational charity Centre for British Teachers about it becoming the academy sponsor. The Swanswell development is one of the biggest changes to the city in decades.

City academies can get grants of up to pounds 25 million from the government if they find a sponsor to put in pounds 2 million.

The sponsor gets to appoint the governing body, head and staff, and have a say in the curriculum and ethos.

The council is planning two city academies - the other one is at Woodway Park School where Christian evangelist Bob Edmiston, wants to be the sponsor. TELL US YOUR VIEWS... What do you think of the plan? Write to Letters Editor at Corporation Street, Coventry, CV1 1FP; text 07800 140 064; e-mail letters@coventry-telegraph.co.uk

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OPPOSED...The board of governors at Sidney Stringer School (above), chaired by Rob Windsor (inset) voted last night against merging with Barrs Hill School (below)
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Dec 14, 2005
Words:489
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