A MAJOR player in the global arms market is set to take over responsibility for improving Waltham Forest's schools.

VT Education and Skills, the council's preferred bidder for a four-year contract previously held by EduAction, is a subsidiary of VT Group plc, which was listed by Defence Magazine as one of the world's 50 biggest arms companies in 2005.

The firm is hoping to become the first British company to sell military equipment to Libya since a trade embargo was imposed following the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. Negotiations on a deal worth £300 million are said to be at an advanced stage.

VT Group generated revenue of £1.27billion from military sales in 2005, making it the 40th most successful firm in the world in this sector. A total of 80 per cent of the company's revenue comes from providing products to armed forces.

The company has lucrative military support and training contracts with countries including Britain and the United States, and says its shipbuilding arm is "the leading supplier of ships to the Royal Navy and navies around the world".

VT Group proudly boasts of supplying technical support to the US Department of Defence and providing asset management of warships, aircraft and vehicles.

The firm has joint contracts with BAE systems, which is currently the subject of a corruption investigation by the United States Department of Justice. It has also recently paid £75m to buy part of British Nuclear Fuels.

VT Group provides various services for the public sector in the UK. It maintains Metropolitan Police vehicles and provides support services for British Airways at Heathrow and Gatwick.

The firm is the country's leading careers advisor to children, including in east London.

The council say the contract, which will also make VT Group responsible for school admissions and grants, is expected to be signed in February.