CTCs a hard act to follow

24th March 2000 at 00:00
CITY academies will fail to emulate the success of city technology colleges, without using selection, it has been claimed.

But if selection is carried out, the problem of social exclusion in inner-city schools will not be addressed, according to Martin Rogers, co-ordinator of The Education Network - an information service funded by local authorities.

The academies are modelling themselves on the technology colleges - first launched in a high-profile initiative of the then Conservative government in the 1980s. There had been 20 colleges planned but when the pound;153 million (including pound;35m from industry) dried up, only 15 were set up.

Most technology colleges now boast consistently good results, attendance and behaviour and few exclusions, making them an attractive model for a Government struggling to address the problems of inner-city schools.

The admissions policy of the colleges commits them to an intake of pupils that is representative of the full range of ability in their catchment area.

However, potential students are interviewed to establishan "aptitude" for the specialist subjects the college offers, strong motivation to succeed and an intention to continue in full-time education or training up to the age of 18.

This process has led to accusations that the colleges cream off keen pupils who have committedparental support, leaving other schools in the area with surplus places and an unfair share of disaffected pupils.

In contrast to colleges, city academies will have to abide by a Department for Education and Employment code of practice on admissions that forbids interviews.

Mr Rogers said the success of technology colleges was largely due to their ability to select the most motivated children.

"It seems clear that the Government intends city academies to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

"Without the same admissions process for city academies it is hard to see how they would match CTCs' performance.

"But if they adopt those policies, they cannot solve the problems of inner city schools, struggling with a complex cocktail of factors militating against success."

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