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Kelly in U-turn on staff registration

All teachers working in academies will be subject to stricter controls under new guidelines for the flagship schools.

In an apparent U-turn, Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, said this week that academy teachers should be registered with the General Teaching Council. It follows an outcry by the council and an early day motion signed by 66 MPs demanding that the anomaly is ironed out.

The independent status of academies provoked further controversy this week when the Government confirmed that they were not bound by Freedom of Information legislation. This means they do not have to respond to inquiries from the public asking for information on exam or admissions.

Melian Mansfield, chair of the Campaign for State Education, said: "It is totally outrageous that academies are exempt when every other public body is covered by it. This means that all parents with children at academies do not have the same rights as those who have children at other publicly-funded schools."

Addressing the Labour party conference in Brighton, Ms Kelly said: "We have agreed with academies that in future, as with other state schools, all teachers will be registered with the General Teaching Council - because those children deserve the best."

Carol Adams, chief executive of the GTC, said: "This guarantees that all teachers, particularly in academies, which are in the most deprived parts of the country, are absolutely fit for purpose."

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the newly-formed Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, which will oversee the construction of 173 academies in the next five years, adding to the 27 already opened, said the GTC deal was part of a guiding framework for the flagship schools. He said a network of "30 or 40" outstanding heads of specialist schools had also been identified to lead new academies, reaping salaries of up to pound;120,000 each.

"Leading these schools will be among the most challenging jobs in the country and headteachers need to be rewarded accordingly," he said.

Under the framework, new academies will also be federated to outstanding nearby specialist schools. Private sponsors will be asked to link up with education experts, such as universities or private schools. And future academy buildings will be restricted to "around 10" standard designs to ensure they are more cost effective.

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