A FORMER headteacher has been appointed to act as a matchmaker between business and local authorities in the controversial city academies initiative.
Sir Bruce Liddington is the first of a small team of brokers who will work with the Department for Education and Employment to help develop the new city academies, which are publicly-funded independent schools set up to drive up standards in the inner
The former head of Northampton School for Boys was appointed by the Government. He is currently a consultant at the DFEE.
In his new role, he will match sponsors who have up to pound;2 million to invest with local authorities which want to create a city academy.
He also has special responsibility for Willesden high school in Brent, set to become a specialist sports college and regarded as the Government's flagship city academy.
His first job for Brent will be to set up a team of sponsors and council officials to develop plans for the academy.
"The problems that many schools are facing are not of their own making and the solutions are not going to come solely within the schools," he said.
"Without joined-up thinking we don't get any thinking at all. Bu if you can create a structure that pulls the efforts of different agencies together, then you can achieve more than the sum of the parts."
Sir Bruce was knighted this year for his services to education after turning round Northampton School for Boys, which was threatened with closure.
However, his appointment is unlikely to be received with enthusiasm by Brent union officials who oppose the city academy scheme.
They have accused government officials of pushing through reforms without proper consultation and say ministers are privatising state school education.
But Sir Bruce said that schools could not afford to ignore the lessons that the private sector could teach them. "I regret any opposition because I believe this development will bring about a massive improvement in the conditions of the pupils and the teachers.
"Willesden high school will receive an extra pound;10m in funding for building work which it would not have got unless it became a city academy," he said.
Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett has given outline approval for five city academy bids and education officials estimate there are at least another five in the pipeline.