Headlines: March 22nd, 1999

Additonal teaching is to be provided for the top 10% of children in inner city comprehensive schools. Some 100,000 children will receive extra lessons after school or on Saturdays. Funds will be made available for extra teachers and local education authorities will decide the best way to implement the initiative.

Another step towards reform came with the announcement that some of the activities of the London Borough of Hackney will be taken over. As a result of the OFSTED report listing the failures of the Hackney Education Authority the school improvement service and language training support are to be contracted out. Next month the Department for Education and Employment will announce the private companies, not for profit and other organisations that will be invited to tender for these and later contracts where Local Education Authorities fail to reach adequate standards.

Businesses and communities have until April 16 to submit applications for the second wave of Education Action Zones. The most promising bidders will receive 20,000 pounds to develop their bids and successful bids will receive up to one million pounds when a zone is set up. Bidders have to demonstrate how they can raise standards in radical new ways and apply best practice. The new zones will be set up between January and September 2000.

The first wave of 25 zones are developing projects involving local agencies on housing estates to IT companies. Zones are based on about 20 primary, secondary and special schools in a local area.