STAFF at the country's first city academy will be offered a new contract with more money to recognise the extra work they are likely to face.
The aptly-named First City Academy, due to open next September on the site of St David's and St Katherine's Church of England school in Haringey, north London, will also offer teachers a loyalty bonus for sticking with it through its first few years.
The news comes as the Government announced three more academy projects - two specialising in business and enterprise in Southwark and Bexley, south London, and a technology college in Walsall, west Midlands. Nine projects are now under way.
The Southwark school, as predicted by The TES, will be sponsored by the Corporation of London, which has no state secondary schools of its own. It will be called the City of London Academy. David Garrard, chairman of property group Minerva, will sponsor Bexley Business Academy.
The Walsall school will have close links with one of the country's most successful schools, Thomas Telford city technology college in Shropshire. It will be sponsored by a company formed by that school, Thomas Telford Online, and the Mercer's Company.
Leaders of First City Academy say the first year will be transitional, and they expect the new school to be fully operational by eptember 2002. The school has improved but is still underperforming and undersubscribed. The academy will specialise in technology, but will also have a stronger Christian ethos.
At least pound;5 million in refurbishments and new buildings are planned, sponsored by the London Diocesan Board of Schools and the Greig Trust, which has supported Haringey schools since the 1930s and helped fund the creation of St David's and St Katherine's in 1975.
Existing staff will continue on their current terms and pay, but will be given the chance to sign a new contract. Project manager Jenny Mann said:
"This is a tough job, it's going to take a lot of work to turn the place around in two or three years and we want to be able to reward teachers for doing that."
Levels of incentives have yet to be set, but the contract would reflect the longer hours teachers already work. They could also be expected to give up extra days off for training. All staff will be given a laptop computer.
The DFEE has set up a City Academies Support Service to provide back-up to the pilots - and to the schools which the academies will replace. With most not expected to open before 2002, Clive Grimwood, chief executive of the academies' support services and principal of Bacon's City Technology College in south London, said: "We're anxious to ensure the best possible education experience for youngesters in the existing schools."