Action zone schools to open in evenings and at weekends

PROPOSALS that could radically reshape the way children are taught are contained in plans for education action zones.

An Independent on Sunday survey of education action zone bids submitted to ministers confirms that the Government will be able to fulfil its ambition to test wholesale changes to the school day, the national curriculum and the traditional three-term year.

Private enterprise will also be given a role in education, while allowing the Secretary of State for Education, David Blunkett, to insist that schools are not being run for profit.

Senior civil servants have toured the country in recent weeks, trying to put flesh on the bones of outline plans submitted to the Government after only a few weeks' preparation earlier this year.

Teachers' unions have also been on the offensive, trying to protect pay and conditions despite ministers' pledges to give zones the power to tear up national agreements.

None of the zone bids surveyed by the Independent on Sunday propose significant changes to the teachers' national pay and conditions agreement, stressing instead that changes would be negotiated with union leaders.

Proposals include:

n Extending the school day into the evening and opening schools at weekends for homework clubs, sport and adult education classes.

n Possible four- or five-term years, to replace the three terms and long summer holidays enjoyed by children, and their teachers, for generations.

n A huge expansion of computer technology, including hi-tech networks, allowing children and parents to access schoolwork, class notes and even e-mail advice from home, potentially 24 hours a day.

n Business "mentors" for head teachers and corporate sponsorship for schools.

n Extra pay for teachers in deprived areas.

n Efforts to encourage parents into adult education classes.

Plymouth's EAZ bid, widely thought to be a front-runner, offers one glimpse of the type of reforms likely to be on offer. Schools in the inner city zone area will offer a new three-session day, based on a split between traditional morning and early afternoon classes and a new daily evening session, lasting until around 6pm.

Changes to the national curriculum in the zones will focus on giving pupils more help with literacy and numeracy. There is also wide support for links with further education colleges to offer some children a more work-related course.

Ministers insist that at least one of the zones announced on Tuesday will be led by the private sector.

Although the bids reveal that local authorities will remain firmly in the driving seat, education specialists in the private sector are planning a significant role as consultants.

Another front-runner, Lambeth, has formed a partnership with the Centre for British Teachers, a charitable company based in Reading that already runs careers advice services. Under the zone bid CFBT will help the local authority run schools on a consultancy basis.

In the bid submitted by North Somerset Council to cover schools in the Weston-super-Mare area, the private sector teacher supply and careers advice giant, Nord Anglia, will offer curriculum advice and help monitor schools in the zone.

At least one bid, in Croydon, is based on a partnership of schools themselves, although Croydon Council is a leading partner.

Most attention has been focused on plans being developed by the London Borough of Newham, widely thought to be guaranteed a place as one of the first zones.

Graham Lane, Newham's chairman of education, said schools across the borough were showing interest in the idea of the proposed zone having a five-term year.

Under the Newham plan, the school year would start in late August, with a two-week holiday in October, another two weeks at Christmas, two weeks in March and at Whitsun, and five weeks from mid-July.

There had also been no shortage of teachers volunteering to run Saturday schools, paid on special overtime contracts.

"We are really talking about letting flowers bloom," said Mr Lane. "I think they will start to bloom very quickly and spread to other areas."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions