Letters - In defence of city academies

Francis Beckett ("How car dealers can run state schools", 20 September) grossly misrepresents city academies. To suggest that "these schools are simply being privatised" is nonsense. They do not charge fees, and sponsors do not make a profit. Sponsors are not an "elite club of millionaires". They include the Church of England, educational trusts, the Corporation of London and a livery company. Most have many years of experience in education. In any case, education management is not a secret garden that should be accessible only to lifelong professionals. Sponsors from non-educational backgrounds bring a track record of successful management, a commitment to improving the community and a determination to succeed. These things are exactly what schools need. City academies are transforming educational standards and opportunity in our most deprived communities. At the King's Academy in Middlesbrough, for example, 34 per cent of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs between grades A and C - an improvement of roughly 12 per cent on the joint results of the predecessor schools in 2003.

Rona Kiley
Chief executive Academy Sponsors Trust
London SW1

This article first appeared in the 27 September 2004 issue of the New Statesman, The real Tony Blair