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Academies (Worcestershire)

Volume 541: debated on Monday 27 February 2012

8. How many schools have applied to become an academy in (a) Worcester constituency, (b) Worcestershire and (c) England. (96390)

In the Worcester constituency, three secondary schools have applied for academy status, of which two have successfully converted. In Worcestershire, 25 schools have applied to become academies, of which 19 are open, and there is one sponsored academy open. Across England, there have been a total of 1,861 applications from mainstream funded schools to become academies, of which 1,243 are open, and there are 337 sponsored academies open.

One application that has recently been approved is that of Bishop Perowne college in my constituency, with support from King’s school Worcester a leading local independent school, the university of Worcester, which specialises in teacher training, and a major local employer, Yamazaki Mazak Ltd. Will the Minister join me in welcoming that approach, and will he encourage more such innovative partnerships to bring public and private sector expertise together to offer the best to pupils at our academies?

I am delighted that Bishop Perowne college received its academy order in January to convert to academy status, and that as my hon. Friend says, it will do so with the support of King’s school, the university of Worcester and Yamazaki Mazak. I strongly encourage other public-private partnerships to come forward to support academy conversions and share their expertise in that important part of our school reform programme.

Presumably, the Minister would expect local authorities to have some strategic view of what should happen to academies in their area. Next time he talks to Birmingham city council, and to councillors Les Lawrence and Mike Whitby, if he can find out what their strategy on academies is, I would be grateful if he passed it on to me.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had very good meetings with councillors in Birmingham, and I hope that all local authorities will work constructively with the Department as we seek to tackle underperforming schools in the schools network.