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THE boss of what is set to become Portsmouth’s second academy has ambitions for a network of schools across the south east to boost standards.

David Triggs, chief executive of Academies Enterprise Trust due to take over Miltoncross this year, has already held informal talks with primary schools in the city considering academy status.

The former headteacher has told The News about his vision for a group of academies covering Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

He said: ‘It would be great to have a regional team of schools working together, sharing best practice and supporting each other.

‘Miltoncross has shown ambition and courage for taking the step to ask us for support to help move the school forward.

‘Its head, Niel McLeod, recognises that as an education-driven charity led by teachers with years of experience, we can provide the scrutiny, support and mentoring his school needs

‘We’d love to work with more schools in Portsmouth.’

Mr Triggs, 58, is quick to defend AET from critics of academies – independent schools funded directly by the government that are free to set their own curriculum, timetable and pay conditions.

He insists all staff at Miltoncross will retain their contracts, serving governors would be able to transfer to a new board, and there would be ‘no form of selection’ in admissions.

He said: ‘Miltoncross will maintain its own identity and its ethos. We’re not in the business of making clones – we are not Tesco.

‘But the quality of a school cannot exceed the quality of the teaching.

‘We will work to give Miltoncross extra support to ensure every satisfactory lesson becomes a good one, and every good lesson becomes outstanding.’

He added: ‘When Miltoncross has its next Ofsted in three years it will be at least good with outstanding features.’

At its latest Ofsted inspection, Miltoncross was graded satisfactory.

AET is now finalising paperwork relating to the Private Finance Initiative under which Miltoncross was built in 1999, and expects it to become an academy on November 1.