Christians face new challenges over city academies
Christians who were recently given the go ahead  to rebuild secondary schools as city academies face new challenges after the announcement that most of the Governmentís flagship projects were among schools with the worst test results for 14-year-olds.
Nine of the 11 academies featured in the bottom 200 schools in England for results in national curriculum tests of English, mathematics and science last year, according to figures published yesterday. They included the Business Academy Bexley, in Kent, which was hailed by Tony Blair as the future of secondary education when he opened it.
Plans to build 200 state-funded City Academies should be shelved because of lack of evidence that the schools work, a committee of MPs has also said.
The projected £50 billion cost of the scheme is too much to spend without a thorough evaluation, says a report by the Commons education select committee.
The academies are the Government's flagship schools replacing failing comprehensives in the inner cities and cost about £26 million to build with at least £2 million being provided by private sponsors.
They are run independently of local education authorities and funded directly from Whitehall. They do not have to teach the national curriculum and are intended as test-beds for new approaches to education in areas where schools have been failing.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) a few weeks ago gave the go-ahead to the two ëexpressions of interestí from Christian charity the Oasis Trust, which is working with North East Lincolnshire Council and the DfES to rebuild two local secondary schools as Academies.
Plans for the two schools, Wintringham Secondary School and Immingham Comprehensive School, include a number of community facilities such as childcare, libraries and health centres. These facilities will be developed on the existing school premises, with both schools set to re-open as academies in September 2008.
It is planned that the Oasis Academy Grimsby curriculum will be enhanced by a specialism in sports and health, while the Oasis Academy Immingham will specialise in engineering and commercial skills.
ìWe are looking forward to working with North East Lincolnshire Council on these exciting plans. Our goal is to ensure that the Oasis Academies in Grimsby and Immingham become examples of excellence and innovation, raising aspirations and providing opportunities for the entire communityî said Steve Chalke, the Trust's founder.
The Oasis Academies in Grimsby and Immingham will be the latest in a long line of education initiatives pioneered by Oasis Trust, which has already been given the go-ahead  to sponsor an academy in North London due to open in September 2007.