Adonis move is 'no threat to reform'

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The Independent Online

The departure of Andrew Adonis from the education ministry will not threaten the academy schools programme, the Government insisted yesterday.

Ministers said they were still committed to setting up 400 academies with state finance and private sponsorship, and announced the launch of four new skills academies. One – the National Skills Academy for Enterprise – aims to teach 11,000 pupils aged 16 to 19 to become captains of industry. It will be headed by Peter Jones, a judge on the BBC entrepreneurial show Dragons' Den.

John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said: "Now, more than ever before, we need to develop innovative training that inspires and empowers a new generation to realise their ambitions."

The other academies will train students to work in the power industry, information technology and social care. Ten national skills academies are already open and two more are in the planning stage. Supporters of academy schools had feared that the programme might flounder without the enthusiasm of the former schools minister, Lord Adonis, behind it. He was made a minister for Transport at the weekend, prompting opposition parties to accuse Gordon Brown of backing away from schools reform.

The Liberal Democrat schools spokesman, David Laws, said: "We can now be sure all of the momentum will seep away from the academies programme, which will continue to exist in form but not in substance."