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."

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
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

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?