All teenagers should take part in summer schools, says minister

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The Independent Online

The lyrics of Alice Cooper's School's Out, celebrating the end of lessons for another summer, could be consigned to the history books if the Education minister Andrew Adonis has his way. Lord Adonis wants all teenagers to be able to take part in summer courses during the holidays. Research in the US has shown that young people who opt for a summer learning activity get better results in their exams.

Ministers have mounted summer "university" pilots involving 10 London boroughs this summer. However, Lord Adonis said, in an interview with The Independent, that he planned a radical expansion. "We should make learning as important a part of the summer holiday as going on a summer holiday. There is no reason why all teenagers should not be able to benefit from this," he said.

Courses in the pilot schemes include studying script writing, space exploration, food hygiene, science and a range of arts and drama options. Many of the courses are linked to universities - giving teenagers a glimpse of university life in their early teens in an attempt to persuade them to go on to higher education.

Lord Adonis wants to widen the scheme to every London borough - and then to persuade other authorities to operate similar schemes. He believes they could be vital in identifying the talent in the 30,000 or so youngsters who, according to the Prince's Trust, will leave school with no qualifications this summer.

The pilots have already been successful in persuading youngsters to go to university. Vanessa Tsu, a 17-year-old at Camden High School for Girls in north London - who has taken two scriptwriting courses at summer schools and plans to go to university to study psychology and sociology - said she would be the first person in her family to go to university.

"If I wasn't here, I'd be doing nothing," said Clinton Maturine, aged 19, who is qualifying to become a youth worker and now acts as a mentor on the courses. "It teaches you all sorts of things you thought you couldn't do."

Lord Adonis expected universities and schools to become involved, although he said there would be "no compulsion" on schools to run them. Some businesses have also joined the venture in an attempt to give youngsters a taste of life in the City of London before they choose their career. "This is an important part of our programme to have an extended education programme for individuals," Lord Adonis said. "It is absolutely vital in ensuring we reach our potential."