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Head advertises for a sugar daddy

A Leeds secondary which failed to raise sponsorship towards its technology college bid has resorted to advertising in the classified section of the satirical magazine Private Eye.

The advert appears alongside an offer of cheap flights to Moscow to meet "Russian ladies seek(ing) relationshipmarriage" and an appeal from a "hunky struggling scriptwriter" looking for a "rich bitch millionairess sugar mummy". It asks for "a firm believer in state education" to sponsor "an entrepreneurial state head to develop her school in a centre of excellence".

The school, Benton Park, decided to take such measures after it lost its original sponsors when its second bid for technology college status was turned down by the Department for Education and Employment. It has not yet received any offers of help.

Head Anne Clarke said: "As the specialist school initiative has grown there are more demands on industry. We're not an inner-city school and it is often those in deprived areas that find it easiest to attract donors.

"Trying to run a 'bog-standard' comprehensive, as somone put it, without any of the specialist frills is increasingly difficult."

She added: "I was hoping we could attract some rich entrepreneur who would be willing to donate pound;50,000 which they could write off against tax. Our original sponsors have withdrawn after standing by us for 18 months."

Benton Park is already a beacon school but its bids for specialist status were turned down because officials did not believe its plan involved the wider community sufficiently. The school is contesting the decision, but even if it wins it will not become a technology college unless it can raise pound;50,000 from business.

Mrs Clarke said: "We got about 12 lines of feedback. But that's pretty feeble after all the hours of work that we've put in."

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "Many schools find it difficult to attract sponsorship in their area and have to resort to unconventional approaches. It is vital that the system does not come to depend on headteachers spending valuable time in raising small amounts of money."

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