Education adviser warns of two-tier school system

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A senior government schools adviser will warn today of an increasing segregation "between the haves and have nots".

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, will reveal that there are still nearly 400 secondary schools where less than 25 per cent of pupils obtains five top-grade GCSE passes - including maths and English (the new measure for school league tables) - the vast majority of which serve the most disadvantaged areas of the country. He will say: "It would be unacceptable if we end up with a two-tier system of education."

Sir Cyril will insist that schools should sack their weakest teaching staff if they are to succeed. He will compare their lack of success with the improvements made by those schools which have been given specialist status.

Sir Cyril will deliver his blunt message at the SSAT conference in Birmingham, just hours before Tony Blair makes a keynote speech at the same venue. Mr Blair's speech is designed to mark the 10th anniversary of his famous pledge to make "education, education and education" his top three priorities. He will be promoting plans for new "trust" schools - schools working in partnership with each other and with sponsors from business.

Eight partners have come forward to work with schools including Unilever and the Co-op and five universities - Essex, Exeter, Sunderland, West of England and Wolverhampton. Sir Cyril, the main architect of the Government's specialist schools programme whose trust now also represents Mr Blair's privately sponsored flagship academies, will also warn that minority groups - especially Muslims - are also living in segregated areas and attending segregated schools.

Sir Cyril will outline steps being taken by the trust to combat segregation - including the establishment of a new multifaith academy in Oldham, an area with a large Muslim population, which would have as one of its mission statements teaching mothers of Muslim pupils the English language so they can help their children at school.