Teachers declare war on Blair's academies

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The Independent Online

Britain's biggest teachers' union is to declare outright war on Tony Blair's plans to set up a network of 200 privately sponsored academies to replace failing secondary schools.

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the academies were "immoral" yesterday - and that they turned their backs on less academic children.

NUT leaders plan to set up campaign groups in every area where an academy is planned, to persuade parents and teachers to stop it going ahead. The move, to be debated at the union's Easter conference, is a major escalation of its opposition to the proposals.

A report commissioned by the Government from PriceWaterhouseCoopers has already warned ministers there is a danger they could create a two-tier education system. The report looked at similar projects in the United States and Europe, where middle-class families had been the main beneficiaries.

Mr Sinnott said:"You create... schools which are more attractive to parents who have higher aspirations... There are some children who are wanted by them and other children who are unwanted. That seems to us to be immoral."

Union leaders said the academies would be under no obligation to accept children with special needs. But a Department for Education and Skills spokesman said: "The code doesn't allow academies to cherry-pick pupils."