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More academies - change for the better?

Every failing school across the South East will be forced to become an academy under new rules proposed by the government today. At the moment there has to be local consultation before conversion but that will be scrapped.

It means 16 schools in Kent graded as "inadequate" by Ofsted will be targeted - plus another four in Medway and seven across Sussex. Another seven on the Isle of Wight will be handed over to sponsors to improve their performance - plus a further five in Reading and three in Oxfordshire. So-called "coasting schools" where pupils may do well - but don't make as much progress as they should will also be targeted.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports

Tributes to "gifted" political leader

He was a very gifted political leader - but above all, he was a friend. That's what the former Folkestone MP and Tory leader Michael Howard said today about Charles Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy, who led the Lib Dems for more than six years, has been found dead at his home in Scotland. He was just 55.

He'll be remembered for leading his party to unprecedented General Election success. Our political correspondent Phil Hornby reports.

  1. National

Ex-Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy dies aged 55

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has died aged 55, his family has said.

Charles Kennedy has died aged 55. Credit: PA Wire

Mr Kennedy died at his home in Fort William yesterday.

His death is not believed to be suspicious and the cause of death is yet to be confirmed.

He lost his seat in the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency to the SNP's Ian Blackford in last month's general election.

In a statement, his family said the 55-year-old was a "fine man, a talented politician, and a loving father".

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