SOUTH Tyneside’s education boss believes more schools in the borough will get controversial academy status.
Coun Jim Foreman’s warning came as it emerged that none of South Tyneside’s primary schools will be converted into academies because they are “miles ahead” of the Government’s worst performing list.
The Department for Education is set to make 200 failing primary schools across the country into academies in a bid to drive up standards, meaning they will be directly funded by the Government and managed independently from local authority control.
But none of the borough’s 44 primary schools, which performed among the best in the country at Key Stage Two last year, are included on the list.
Coun Foreman, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for children, young people, and families, said: “Our schools are proving that we are moving in the right direction in South Tyneside. We are miles ahead of the bottom 200.
“I am delighted with the performance of our primary schools and hopefully they will continue their good work for a long time to come.”
But Coun Foreman believes the Government will eventually create more academy schools in South Tyneside, and fears they could be run by profit-making companies.
At present, the borough has one academy school, after the former Whitburn C of E Comprehensive School in Whitburn changed its status in January 2011.
Coun Foreman’s concerns follow comments made by education secretary Michael Gove last year.
Mr Gove said he had no “particular objection to involving any organisation that is going to improve the country’s education,” but did stress there is currently no need for profit-making companies.
Coun Foreman added: “It is great that our schools are in the position they are currently in, but I still believe the Government will eventually create more academies.
“Using profit-making companies is something I do not want to see. It would be the first step of privatisation.
“Education is something we should continue to invest in, not look to make a profit from.
“My priority is to make sure our children get the best education possible, because these young people are our future.”
In December last year, the Gazette reported how primary school pupils across the borough scored top marks in the 2011 Key Stage Two exams, which test children in English, maths, reading and writing.