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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Creches in schools plan
Children playing
Ministers believe creches could ease the shortage of teachers
Schools will be free to offer childcare, health advice and other services to their local communities in plans outlined in the government's white paper on education.

Ministers believe secondary schools could provide what they call "dawn 'til dusk" services for their area, including after-school study and courses for the community in general.

They think the changes could help parents juggle their working and family lives.

And they hope the provision of a creche might help ease the shortage of teachers, by enabling them to have their young children cared for on-site.

Community centres

The Education Secretary Estelle Morris told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme schools could become community resource centres.

"I always think it's a shame that come the evening, or very early in the morning, the school often isn't working and yet there is a need for a building and things to go on there," she said.

Head teachers of secondary schools have said they support the idea.

John Dunford, the general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said heads wanted schools to become "Learning Centres of their local communities" and suggested the government was dragging its heels.

"We hope to persuade the government to take its ideas forward more radically and more rapidly," he said.

"Many secondary schools are already open from dawn to dusk and beyond.

"We need an imaginative approach from the government to develop this concept."

Parents

Parents' representatives have backed the idea of more schools being used by the community, so long as the activities of the school come first.

Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations said the provision of creches would be welcome.

"That could be very good. They could also be incorporated into pupils' learning as many children are interested in working in childcare or becoming teachers," she said.

"The opening up of schools might also help children to become more conscious of the community around them.

"However, it will be important to make sure that schools come first and that they are not prevented from doing certain things because facilities have been opened to the community."

Click for more on the education proposals

England

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See also:

04 Sep 01 | UK Education
12 Dec 00 | UK Education
14 Mar 01 | UK Education
06 Jun 00 | UK Education
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