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Councils told to back new community schools

THE importance of new community schools to Government education policy was flagged up again this week by the Education Minister who said he wants to see their number double by 2004. But education authorities will have to come up with some of the cash.

Jack McConnell said he plans to ensure that "schools such as these become, increasingly, the foundation on which we build our education policy".

Local evaluations and evidence from HMI had shown that new community schools "are making a real difference to the educational outcomes of their pupils." But Mr McConnell acknowledged it was too early to make a firm assessment.

There are currently 62 pilot projects running more than 400 new community schools. They are backed by Executive funding of pound;37 million but this is the final year of the pilot phase and Mr McConnell wants to open discussions with local authorities to find out how much financial support they are prepared to extend to expand the initiative.

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