FIVE schools in Hounslow want to become academies, giving them independence from the council, it has emerged.
Four secondary and one primary schools across the borough have expressed an interest in the scheme. Of those, three are rated 'outstanding', meaning they could be fast-tracked to have academy status by September should they choose to apply.
Take-up in Hounslow is slightly higher than that in the rest of the country.
About one in 20 schools nationally have so far responded to education secretary Michael Gove's letter inviting applications for independent status, compared with one in 15 in Hounslow.
Academies have traditionally been seen as a way of turning round struggling schools, but the new government wants to encourage the most successful schools to apply for greater independence. It claims doing so will increase innovation and raise standards even further at those schools.
The schools in Hounslow which have expressed an interest in becoming academies are:
Lampton School, Hounslow (outstanding)
Strand-on-the-Green Infant & Nursery, Chiswick (outstanding)
The Heathland School, Hounslow (outstanding)
Cranford Community College
The Green School for Girls, Isleworth.
Academy schools are government-funded but have complete freedom from local authority, with the governing body having the final say on any proposals.
They can set their own pay and conditions for staff, are not bound by the national curriculum and are free to change the lengths of term times and school days.
Announcing the list of schools to have expressed an interest, Lord Hill, parliamentary under-secretary of state for education, said last Friday (June 25): "We want schools to decide what's best for them, not politicians or bureaucrats."
Hounslow Council's executive member for education, Councillor Sachin Gupta, said: "Obviously we would be sorry to see any school leaving the local education authority. However, if that's their decision we will support them in that."
Councillor Robert Oulds, opposition spokesman for education, said: "Giving schools greater independence is a key part of Conservative policy and we would support any school in Hounslow wishing to apply for academy status.
"One of the biggest changes will be the freedom from following the national curriculum. That will help add to the mix of schools within Hounslow, increasing the opportunities presented to our young people."
Governing bodies must be asked whether they support the bid for academy status before the school can submit a formal application. Only 'outstanding' schools can currently apply but all schools have been encouraged to express an interest in the scheme.