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The community role of academies

It is not reasonable to compare the failed city technology colleges programme with the academies initiated by the Government (TES, April 2).

CTCs were schools imposed in areas with little or no discussion with local schools and parents. In Hackney we have three academies underway. We are examining two more academies in the borough. They will:

* work in partnership with our existing secondary schools which have performed so well over the last period

* add to parental choice

* offer a major investment (up to pound;30 million per academy) in Hackney's state education service

* have built-in parental support and involvement of business partners

* have admissions policies which are fair - in Hackney we have fair-banding

* provide for the wide range of pupils irrespective of need.

CTCs were not characterised by these factors and generally they tended to stand apart from the local state system. The academies programme, joining the continuing success of our secondary schools, offers a significant way forward in improving the offer for local people and for teachers to work in a good environment. That is why we will support existing schools to become academies if they wish.

Only if academies stand alone from existing schools and see themselves as elitist can they be compared with CTCs.

Alan Wood Chief executive Hackney technology and learning centre 1 Reading Lane Hackney, London E8

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