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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 12:48 GMT
Video links beat teacher shortages
Technology could be used to link schools
Privately-run state schools are to be linked by a video conferencing network, which will allow schools to share lessons and teachers.

The first state school to be run by a private company, Kings College in Surrey, is to be connected by video and internet links to the Kingshurst City Technology College in Birmingham.

We believe that working as a federation we will be able to answer more easily many of the issues which have dogged the teaching profession

Valerie Bragg, federation chief executive

Kings College is now run by 3E Enterprises, a non-profit making company set up by Kingshurst City Technology College - with a third school in Camberley, Surrey, to become part of this "federation" in the autumn.

Video conferencing will allow pupils in one school to be taught by a teacher in another school and staff and pupils will be able to share information online.

This is intended to broaden the range of subjects and specialisms which can be taught - so that teachers of minority subjects, such as the Japanese language, can be shared between schools in the network.

Business partners

But another more pressing application could be that if there is a shortage of teachers, particularly in some subjects, pupils could "join" a class being taught in another school.

The company running Kings College says that there could be a network of up to 20 such schools, which are run privately, but which remain within the state system.

Kings College was formerly a failing school, which rather than being closed down was handed over to a private contractor, after a tendering process.

Pupils do not pay fees and the school operates as other state schools, but it has a private management which runs the school under a contract.

"We believe that working as a federation we will be able to answer more easily many of the issues which have dogged the teaching profession for many years," said chief executive of the federation, Valerie Bragg.

"Not only does the federation show how schools can work collaboratively in the interests of the students but is witness to the key role that businesses can play as partners."

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04 May 99 | Private
The Guildford experiment
14 Oct 99 | Education
Privately-run state school approved
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