Harrow welcomes the movers and groovers

Fran Abrams reports on a new venture in accelerated learning
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The normally staid classrooms at Harrow School (old boys include Winston Churchill and Mark Thatcher) erupted at 9am to "morning boogie".

Music and exercise started an accelerated learning course, based on American techniques, which opened at the famous north London public school yesterday.

Pupils are learning speed- reading, memory skills and note-taking. For pounds 900, they receive 10 days' intensive teaching which their parents hope will help them achieve better academic results. About half of the students have been sent by their American parents.

Two thousand children attend Supercamp each summer in seven centres across the United States. Its founder and president, Bobbi De Porter, was an estate agent before starting a school for entrepreneurs in 1978 and Supercamp in 1982.

She says that on average the 12-18 year-olds who attend improve their end-of-year results by one grade, with three out of four showing some improvement. The "camp", which is being attended by 50 teenagers this week, is based on "quantum learning", which aims to improve self-confidence and motivation.

Classes take place in rooms decorated with signs bearing messages like "Rehearse for Success" and "Every Challenge Offers a Gift".

After "morning boogie" the students work until 10pm with pauses only for meal breaks. Before lunch, they are taught learning strategies including how to watch and listen as well as how to attract a teacher's attention. In the afternoon, the activities are more physical, and the evening focuses on emotional development and self-knowledge.

By the end of the course, the students will have gained new skills in categories which include "verbal gymnasts", "movers and groovers" or "wandering wonderers". These are designed to build up self-confidence.

Although the full range of academic ability is represented, most are aged about 15 and are achieving average results at school.

At the end of the course, parents are invited to attend a "graduation" ceremony to see their children presented with medals.

Greg Kingston, 12, chose to come on the course because he is in the lowest set at his school, Scarborough College, and he is keen to improve his academic standing.

"It was my parents' idea at first but I agreed with it because I wanted to do better. It's brilliant," he said.