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Magnet for Hackney?

A local branch of the National Union of Teachers is proposing that the failing Hackney Downs boys' school should eventually become a co-educational school specialising in the arts.

The country's first educational association - the "hit squad" created by the Government to tackle failing schools - will be consulting staff, students and parents later this month. It has three main options: closure; keeping the north London school as single-sex; or a "fresh start", effectively closure and re-opening with new staff.

The association's six-member team, led by Richard Painter, chief executive of the ADT city technology college in south London, has already met representatives of the 1,000-strong Hackney NUT.

Mark Lushington, associate secretary, said he thought the school would have a real future as a magnet school, as it had a lot of strengths in the expressive arts.

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