Action zone schools to open in evenings and at weekends
Sunday 21 June 1998
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.
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."
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Germany and ECB set for fight over money-printing
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
Syrian teenager Usaid Barho reveals how he escaped from Isis using a suicide vest
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...