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March 25, 2006

Ministers under fire over academy plans

Ministers under fire over academy plans (24 Mar 06)

http://www.sunderlandtoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=1107&ArticleID=1401257

http://tinyurl.com/jv9re

GOVERNMENT officials today came under fire for censoring documents on the creation of academies on Wearside.

Education chiefs are awaiting a Government decision on their joint-sponsored city academies at Pennywell as well as Hylton Red House and Castle View.
Sunderland's own vision – part of a £95million bid to create new schools across the city under Building Schools for the Future (BSF) – wants to see private firms invest up to £2million to co-run schools with the council, under its own rules.
It's the only proposal of its kind in the UK.
Last year, in documents obtained by the Echo under Freedom of Information, it emerged that Ministers had key concerns over Sunderland's flagship plans and its opposition to Sir Peter Vardy's Emmanuel Schools Foundation.
Now officials at the Department of Education have refused to make public swathes of correspondence on Sunderland's Building Schools for the Future and academies, outlining how education chiefs arrived at their decision.
Material exempt under the ban include mundane details of lunch appointments and train journeys from London to Sunderland.
Others, detailing emails between the Department for Education and Sunderland Council, Schools Secretary Lord Adonis and Council leader Bob Symonds, have been kept under wraps.
A spokesman said despite a "general public interest", officials needed "space to explore different options."
He added: "The impartiality may be undermined if advise is routinely made public and there is a risk that officials could come under political pressure."
Robert Oliver, Sunderland's Conservative education spokesman, said: "I am concerned that not enough information is getting out.
"The time to have a debate is when all the issues have come out. People, generally, are unsure. We need to have the facts."


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