A PUBLIC meeting regarding what could herald the biggest change in provision of education in Tavistock for a generation is due to take place in the town tonight (Thursday). Tavistock College, one of the first schools in the country to be designated a specialist language college, is one of just six in Devon considering becoming a trust school. The proposal sparked a demonstration by members of the National Union of Teachers earlier this year, who staged an exhibition in Tavistock against the proposals for a trust school. They believe the plans will lead to privatisation. The NUT claims trust schools will not be democratically accountable, questions the fact they are able to set their own admissions policy and would have a detrimental effect on the pay and conditions of their teachers. Secretary of Devon NUT David Clinch said there were inherent dangers in putting Tavistock College outside local education authority control: 'There will be the power to innovate and to change for example they could have a majority of sponsors on the governing body or change the admissions policy. 'The headteacher says they will not do it but there is no guarantee the next governing body won't.' But Colin Eves, principal of Tavistock College, said he believed being a trust school would be of benefit to the college. 'I think it's a good opportunity for the college to gain the support of some additional partners that are committed to the same values and principles as we are,' he said. If the proposals receive the backing of parents, staff, students and the community in general, a charitable trust will be formed which will be responsible for the appointment of the school's governing body. The governers would still be responsible for the performance of the school, which would continue to be maintained by the local education authority. However, the staff would be employed by the governing body, rather than the LEA. The trust would also hold the college land and buildings. Through the trust, long term links will be established with four principle partner organisations and Tavistock College. These organisations are the West Devon environmental charity Westden, the College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth, City College Plymouth (formerly the college of further education) and the Educational Attaché of the Embassy of Japan. A representative from each of these partner organisations would join the board of governors at the school. Mr Eves said it was important to remember that the benefits of being a trust school would be an addition to the college — it was not 'an instead of' situation. He said: 'Obviously what people are concerned about is "Is it in any way going to prevent us doing any of the things we are doing currently?" 'Basically our working relationship with the local authority will carry on completely unchanged. The way we are funded and the level at which we are funded is totally unaffected. 'The trust will be working alongside the governors — it's not as if the trustees are taking over the running of the school, the governors will continue exactly as they have done before. 'The good thing is we will be bringing in some new governors with a range of expertise and from a wider field than we have at the moment.' Mr Eves said the trustees would have a responsibility to ensure that everything the school held dear — its commitment to comprehensive education, improvement of education, facilities and services to students, staff and the wider community — was not only maintained but developed and improved to the benefit of all. 'Working in partnership means we can achieve a lot more than working individually — this is a long-term, sustainable commitment,' said Mr Eves, who stressed that the proposals were still in the consultation stage and urged parents to return the questionnaires they had been sent — and to attend tonight's meeting. The meeting takes place in the main hall at Tavistock College at 6.30pm — all are welcome.