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MORRIS APPOINTS LONDON SCHOOLS TSAR

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A schools commissioner for London has been appointed by education secretary Estelle Morris to drive up standards. ...
A schools commissioner for London has been appointed by education secretary Estelle Morris to drive up standards.

Junior education minister Stephen Twigg has been given special responsibility for London's schools.

The commissioner, who has yet to be named, is widely tipped to be outgoing Birmingham City Council education director professor Tim Brighouse - a favourite choice with the unions.

The commissioner will work with London's 33 education departments and will have some powers to override them. The commissioner will report to Mr Twigg.

Ms Morris has acknowledged the lack of strategy for London's schools and noted the acute social and economic problems in the capital that increase social deprivation and hinder the driving up of education standards.

In a move some believe is reminiscent of the Inner London Education Authority, Ms Morris announced a range of measures to help London. These include extra funding to set up at least 25 city academies, an innovation fund to help schools work with others to raise standards and a£10m London centre for gifted pupils.

Louisa Woodley (Lab), chair of the Association of London Government's education panel, welcomed the new initiatives.

She said: 'We are delighted the government has listened to the ALG's calls for

additional investment to deal with the

issues London schools face. We are keen to work with them to develop ways to pool ideas to help overcome the challenges in the capital.'

Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers, said giving Mr Twigg specific responsibility for London merely underlines the divisiveness of having 33 boroughs doing what should be a London-wide task.

Mr O'Kane was sceptical about whether Ms Morris' proposals would have the desired effect.

'The jury is out on whether some of her proposed solutions, such as an increase in the number of city academies, will help in tackling those problems,' he said.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the new academies 'will not resolve the problems or meet the needs of the majority of pupils and students in the capital'.

'It will divide further the opportunities for young people by the extension of privileged provision for a minority,' he added.

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