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Specialist bids verdict delayed

About 150 schools will have to wait until after the general election to find out if they will get the go-ahead to become specialist schools, writes Mark Whitehead.

More than 100 schools have bids outstanding to become technology and language colleges under the Government's scheme. If not for the election they would have found out if they were successful in May. About 40 more schools are putting together bids to become specialist arts and sports colleges by May 17.

Kathleen Lund, chief executive of the Technology Colleges Trust, said discussions on the specialist schools initiative with Labour education spokesman David Blunkett and other Labour leaders had been "very positive".

A decision on the first state-funded Islamic school is also on hold. Two independent junior schools, Al Furqan in Birmingham and Islamia in North-west London have been given Funding Agency for Schools backing to opt into the state system.

* The incoming government will have to appoint the chair of the new quango, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, due to start work in October.

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