Minister vows to shake up schools

SWEEPING CHANGES to the way schools are run will transform pupils' lives by the next century, the Government promised yesterday.

Stephen Byers, the school standards minister, said that 25 education action zones would challenge the status quo by introducing longer school days, a different school year and new types of lessons.

Teachers warned, however, that they would resist any changes to their pay and conditions caused by longer working hours.

Zones, which will involve groups of schools in areas where pupils are underachieving, will attract pounds 56m over three years from the taxpayer and pounds 19m from business.

The first 12 zones will start in September and the rest in January. More are expected next September and ministers are hoping that parents will bid to set up new zones where they are unhappy with local schools.

Mr Byers said: "Let there be no doubt that education action zones present a fundamental challenge to the educational status quo, a real threat to the vested interests which have for too long held back our education system."

Household names such as Rolls-Royce, Kellogg's, Tate and Lyle and American Express are business partners in the zones with local authorities or groups of schools. British Aerospace, for example, will help plan the curriculum in Hull.

Most will be led by local authorities but two, ministers say, will be led by business: Shell International will take the lead in Lambeth, south London, and Comcast, a cable, telephone and television provider, in Middlesbrough. The Halifax bank will be "a driving force" in the Calderdale zone.

The 25 successful bids chosen from a total of 60 applications include proposals for:

a tailor-made television channel bringing the classroom into pupils' living rooms in Grimsby.

an increase of 50 per cent in school opening hours in Birmingham.

investigation of a school year split into four or five terms in Croydon.

a longer school day, Saturday classes and breakfast clubs in Hull.

work-related lessons for disaffected 14- to 16-year-olds in Brighton and Newcastle.

A quarter of the zones are considering whether to vary teachers' pay and conditions to accommodate longer school days and weekend and holiday working.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, said the aim was to transform and modernise schools: "The traditional solutions are not working in these areas."

All zones will receive pounds 750,000 a year from the Government and pounds 250,000 from business for three years and must set targets to raise standards. Each will involve several secondary schools and up to 15 primaries. They will be run by forums including representatives of local authorities, business, teachers and parents. In the business-led zones, company representatives will chair the forums but no profit-making company will be in control.

Responding for the Tories, education spokesman David Willetts said that zones would be "left in the hands of the very local education authorities that even the Department for Education believes has failed".

He added: "This is yet another example of the Government talking tough rhetoric but the reality is different."

David Hart, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "If education action zones take off nationally, they will represent the biggest change the education system has seen in decades. They will become the Trojan Horse which could well destroy local education authorities as we know them."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform