Struggling school tries Montessori teaching

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Ministers are to back a radical experiment in abandoning traditional teaching methods to improve standards at a struggling state primary school.

The scheme will bring in Montessori teachers – trained in a progressive teaching method more in favour in the 1960s and 1970s – to Gorton Mount primary, in one of Manchester's most deprived inner-city areas. It is the first time since the introduction of a universal education system in the UK that the Government has turned to a private teaching methodology to improve standards in a state school.

The technique is based on the ideas of the Italian doctor Maria Montessori. Children will learn at their own pace and choose what they do for as long or as short a time as they please.

The Montessori Schools Association and the Department for Education and Skills are putting £40,000 each into the experiment. It will be reviewed in April and, if successful, continued at Gorton Mount for eight years.