Prime Minister pledges 40 academies within the next year.

Tony Blair backed the extension of the city academy programme as he opened a £33m academy school in Southwark yesterday, writes Youlande Miles.

Speaking at the opening of the City Academy of Southwark, Blair announced that more than 40 academies will be opened by this time next year, with 200 being built within the next five years.

The Southwark school was financed by government and the corporation of London and is now open for use by children and the local community. Blair emphasized that the partnership between government and private sector can improve schooling to give outstanding GCSE results. He pointed to the example of Kings Norton high school in Birmingham, which improved its rate of five good GCSE passes from 16 to 50% between 2004 and 2005.

Blair also wants to extend the schools flexibility to plan timetables in ways that meet the needs of the students.

Blair said he is determined to work more for the other academies and make the extension of the programme a reality. He said he wanted to extend the availability of high quality education that is increasingly offered in the UK’s best state schools.