Birmingham is being "blackmailed" into setting up city academies by the Government in return for millions of pounds to refurbish schools, a teaching union claimed last night.
The Birmingham Post yesterday revealed the authority is in talks with the Department for Education and Skills to set up seven "independent" academies in the city.
At the same time the council is bidding for £307 million from the Government, under the Building Schools for the Future drive, to refurbish or rebuild every secondary school in the country.
The National Union of Teachers claimed education chiefs in the city had been forced to include the privately-sponsored academies in their bid proposal or risk rejection.
Bill Anderson, deputy general secretary of the NUT's Birmingham branch, said: "In order to access the money from Building Schools for the Future they had to take on the city academy.
"It is blackmail. If you don't take on a city academy you don't get access to the refurbishment funds. It is as simple as that."
City academies - which have greater independence over pay, management and selection of pupils - are a key plank of Labour's education reforms.
They have attracted strong opposition among Labour's own backbenchers and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott also expressed concerns over the weekend.
Birmingham says its proposals are for an adapted model of the academy concept in which they remain within a family of city schools.
Unlike the standard version, they would have two or more sponsors preventing any one business, charity or individual taking control.
The authority said the "Birmingham academies" would also not be allowed to select.
But Mr Anderson said: "We say if it looks like a city academy, it is a city academy. The DfES and Tony Blair will claim it is a major coup to say Birmingham, the largest education authority in Western Europe, is convinced by city academies.
"Thye council is making a huge mistake if it thinks it can change the way the city academies programme will work." ..SUPL: