Private school firm to focus on performing arts

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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 3 E'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 firm says that it wants to establish a college which will focus on both 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 aims to make Kings' Manor one of the first life-long learning colleges of the 21st century, offering teaching for all age groups.

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

3 E's was in competition with CfBT Educational Services, a not-for- profit consultancy and Nord Anglia, a consultancy that runs a string of private schools, careers services, teacher supply agencies and a is supplier of school inspectors.

Surrey council said 3 E's emerged as the leading contender after consultation with legal, financial and educational experts as well as teachers, pupils and parents.

Parents, who were originally unhappy about a takeover by a private company, said that their preference was for 3 E's.

"Kings' Manor is ideally placed to become one of the first educational establishments of the 21st century which provides life-long learning opportunities to enhance the quality of life of those of all ages in the area," the company said.

Surrey will pay the company a fee and performance related bonuses for meeting targets for improved exam results. Final details will now be negotiated.

Kings' Manor has places for 900, but is only half full. It is at the bottom of the county's league tables. Only 20 per cent of pupils gained five good GCSEs this year.

n Professor David Guest, professor of occupational psychology at London University, and Tony Hope, visiting professor of accounting at the French business school INSEAD, said yesterday that Government plans to introduce performance related pay for teachers and nurses would not work. Professor Hope said that performance related pay was yesterday's reward system.