LONDON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Britain's city schools, charged with tackling educational underachievement, have been accused of turning their backs on poor students.
Critics says these schools, participating in the nearly $10 billion program, are cherry-picking the more talented children from middle-class families, reports the Guardian.
The newspaper said figures it obtained showed the percentage of pupils from less affluent families has dropped, in some cases dramatically, at two of the schools, when compared with the "failing" schools they replaced.
The findings come less than a week after the government said that all secondary schools in England would be given academy-style freedoms as part of its education reforms.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is determined to press ahead with the program, saying the schools are raising educational standards for disadvantaged children.
But the Guardian's survey of 14 schools found that eight had reduced the enrollment of children eligible for free school meals.