Councillor Les Lawrence (Con Northfield), cabinet member for education and lifelong learning...

The Building Schools for the Future programme and academies are all about transforming secondary education.

Birmingham's headteachers and officers have been working for three years on a strategy designed to transform the qualifications and skills young people in Birmingham get when they leave school.

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We expect all our young people to have qualifications in literacy and numeracy as well as problem-solving skills, an ability to get to work on time, and an understanding that success depends on commitment and hard work.

This transformation of secondary education relies on collaboration between schools.

We have six area networks of secondary schools that have been working to help each other for six years since Excellence in Cities (a Government-funded initiative to drive up standards in urban education) was introduced.

The success in the GCSE results for August 2005 - resulting in no schools below the 25 per cent Government floor target - was largely due to this collaboration.

Birmingham academies, which will exist solely as a local resource for the group of schools in their area, provide a unique opportunity to develop this partnership.

The plan we have developed in negotiation with the DfES ensures Birmingham academies will have the same admissions policies as all other schools within local communities and pupil numbers in line with the city council's pupil places plan.

The terms and conditions for all staff in Birmingham academies, especially teaching staff, will be the same as those in schools across the rest of the city.

The utilisation of expertise and the alignment of resources to benefit our young people and the staff of our schools has been a premise long practised in Birmingham.

We have a history of working with other public sector bodies, the private sector, charities, faith groups and the voluntary and community sectors in our schools.

We are seeking to further develop these working relationships. Our intention is that each school will have a group of sponsors working with the local authority, parents and staff representatives on the development and governance arrangements for these schools.

This is of particular pertinence to the growing business, voluntary and community groups based around our emerging communities and would assist in raising achievements of those groups most at risk of failing.

At the end of the day it is about developing an educational environment which enthuses, inspires and motivates all our young people.