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Private sector bids hit trouble

THE FIRST take-over of failing education services by a publicly-quoted company hit difficulties this week as Nord Anglia Education remained locked in talks with Hackney.

As The TES went to press, the company had yet to sign the contract to start work on the transformation of the east London borough's school improvement and ethnic minority services.

Nord Anglia was supposed to start work on July 1. Further delays were likely on Wednesday as the Liberal Democrat group launched a late bid to block the signing.

Nord Anglia is said to want Hackney to cover redundancy payments of up to pound;195,000 per head but, according to insiders at the council, borough treasurer George Jenkins was refusing to agree to more than pound;40,000 each.

Nord Anglia chairman Kevin McNeany refused to comment, except to say the contract would be signed "imminently".

The Government's drive to involve the private sector in its programme to link all schools to the Internet has also run into trouble.

In Northern Ireland, Capita, one of two consortia bidding for a pound;250 million contract to supply the province's 1,300 schools, has unexpectedly pulled out of the race. Paul Pindar, its chief executive, said Capita felt the potential rewards were not worth the risk. This leaves Research Machines (RM) and ICL alone to compete for contracts.

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