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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Council calls time on classrooms
Artist's impression of learning centre
There will be no formal timetables at the new learning centres
A council is calling time on formal classes and rigid timetables amid plans to rebuild all 11 of its secondary schools as hi-tech learning centres.

Merseyside's Knowsley Council is replacing 1950s-style secondary schools with centres where children follow programmes matching their interests.

Pupils will be given their assignments in groups of 120 in the morning before dispersing to wi-fi zones to study.

The council hopes the 150m rebuilding programme will boost attainment.

Under the plans traditional classrooms and timetables will be replaced by flexible learning packages which pupils will follow both at the learning centres and from home.

What we are trying to do is to make sure that the physical and learning structures are adaptive and relevant in 25 years' time
Nick Page
Knowsley Council

It is part of the government's 45bn Building Schools for the Future programme through which every school in the country is supposed to be rebuilt by 2020.

Once built in 2009, Knowsley's seven learning centres will remain open from 7am to 10pm and throughout the traditional holiday period.

And the teachers working in the schools will take on roles as "facilitators" and "coaches", depending on negotiations with the unions.

The centres will also host courses for adults to upgrade their skills and improve their education alongside pupils.

The whole project will rely heavily on the latest computer technology likely to be provided by RM while Microsoft provides expert advice to the council.

Knowsley's director of transformation within children's services, Nick Page, stressed there would be stringent financial penalties if the technology fell short of what was expected.

'Adaptive'

He said that all the research suggested that children, young people, parents and employers wanted "different types of products" from the education system.

Employers across the world wanted people who were adaptive and quick to learn, rather than those with the traditional 10 GCSEs, he added.

"What we are trying to do is to make sure that the physical and learning structures are adaptive and relevant in 25 years' time.

"We have taken the best and most innovative practice from around the world but we are one of the few areas to put it all together in a package across the local authority and our schools."

He added that nobody knew what the next generation of technological advances would bring, but Knowsley was trying to ensure it had the flexibility in its learning centres to use it.




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