First state school sell-off deal close

THE COMMERCIAL arm of a specialist school is set to become the first private company to run a British state school.

The education authority in Surrey said last night that the company 3E's Enterprises, set up by Kingshurst City Technology College in Solihull in the West Midlands, was in the lead to secure the contract to run Kings' Manor, a failing comprehensive school in Guildford. Any profits will be ploughed back into Kings' Manor.

The company says it wants to establish a college which will focus on the performing arts and technology.

It said in its bid that it wanted "a high-status college with students rather than pupils". "The term 'students' will be used to indicate the responsible approach to education that we will expect from the young people who attend, it said."

It aims to make Kings' Manor one of the first life-long learning colleges of the 21st century, offering teaching for all age groups.

The company, which has a panel of experts on academic standards and special needs, has the backing of more than 50 sponsors and it has already raised pounds 10m for two schools.