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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?