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Nord must look east to ensure success;Race for Islington's services nears end;News;News amp; Opinion

NORD ANGLIA, the first private company to take over a failing council's education services, has announced a 9.8 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to pound;2.78 million.

The results were overshadowed by the news that Cambridge Education Associates is Islington's preferred bidder. But Kevin McNeany, the chairman and Britain's first education multi-millionaire, said prospects were excellent.

Government moves to privatise local education services are estimated to be worth between pound;8m and pound;20m to the sector next year and the use of private companies to implement performance management may bring in an extra pound;50m.

Nord Anglia's failure in Islington means it must ensure that it succeeds with its contract to run school support services in Hackney, east London. But, in an authority where 11-year-old pupils' results are the worst in the country and GCSE results (five or more A* to Cs) are the fourth worst, scepticism is high.

Tim Harrison, a National Union of Teachers' regional organiser, said Nord Anglia had been "very civilised" but there was no significant improvement in the borough's fortunes since the take-over.

Kingsland secondary, which took many pupils from the closed Hackney Downs school, has just failed its OFSTED inspection.

There is also speculation that Rams Episcopal primary, which has been under special measures since failing an inspection four years ago, might be closed and reopened under the "Fresh Start" scheme. Another private company, CFBT, provided a head and other professional support for the school for a year until this July.

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