Headlines: March 25th, 1999

Education Minister David Blunkett has published a 350 million pound strategy to tackle education black spots in six inner city areas across the UK. When implementation reveals what measures work best they will be extended to other areas.

The strategy embraces pre school children who benefit from the Sure Start nursery education programme to 16 and 17 year olds who will have the opportunity to attend university summer schools. For the ages in between there will be a summer and after school programme for primary age children aimed at building literacy and numeracy. There will be 800 learning mentors to assist children in overcoming barriers.

The programme for expanding beacon and specialist schools will be focused on inner city areas. Beacon schools are high performers which meet stringent assessment criteria. Specilaist schools provide for art, sport, technology and languages. New, scaled down, education actions zones will be created in the target areas.

There will be an emphasis on strengthening leadership at teacher, head teacher and governor level. The inspection programme for local education authorities will be stepped up and where standards are not met contractors will take over.

Implementation of the strategy will be steered by a group of 10 head teachers, chaired by Schools Standards Minister Estelle Morris.