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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 05/98: Education Action Zones  
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Thursday, 21 May, 1998, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
What are Education Action Zones?
teacher with childen
Action zones are designed to boost schools in deprived areas
The government plans to create 25 education action zones during its five-year term of office. The original timetable to start with just five this Autumn has been accelerated; now 12 will start in September, the other 13 in January 1999.

Action zones will cover clusters of around 20 schools, usually 2 or 3 secondary schools and the rest primary and nursery schools. Each zone will be run by an action forum, made up of the local partners in the scheme, including the local education authority, local and national businesses, school governors, parents and other local and community groups.

In each forum there will be a lead partner; the government wants at least one forum to be led by a business partner.

It is this involvement of business that has alarmed the teacher unions. As one NUT commentator sees it, the policy "opens the door to the privatisation of the education service in a way that the Tories never dreamt of".

The origins of the idea

In the late 1960s, the Labour government designated schools in deprived areas as "Educational Priority Areas" and promised to give them extra money for school-building projects. It had also been proposed by the Plowden Committee, whose idea it was that teachers should receive a special allowance for working in difficult schools.

The idea behind EPAs was very similar to the approach of EAZs, namely to involve, and link, schools with parents, local businesses and other community groups to try to foster an ethos of learning.

The education priority areas were gradually absorbed into more general aid programmes for deprived areas. They failed to make radical changes to the nature of schooling.

Next: How will the action zones be run?

Links to more Education Action Zones stories are at the foot of the page.


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