Headlines: March 6th, 2001

Inspection of six of the longest established Education Action Zones (EAZs) reveals variability in their effectiveness and impact, according to OFSTED.Inspections of first-round EAZs in Blackburn, Halifax, Birmingham, Southwark, Salford and Weston-super-Mare, shows that, while some have promoted useful developments, they have not been ‘test-beds for genuinely innovative action’.

OFSTED inspectors say that while they have offered programmes which enhance national initiatives, they rarely offered genuinely new ideas.

More worryingly, while the EAZs are found to have had an impact on improving literacy and numeracy in primary schools, they have had less impact in secondary schools.

The only marked success is in schemes to reduce disaffection.

The EAZs are now two years into a five year programme where they are piloting new methods of involving communities – espeically the business community – in schools.

The way forward recommended is to reduce the spread of activities, improve monitoring of activities so that success or lack of it informs decision-making and dissemination.

The Government has welcomed the good news in the OFSTED report and states that as in the rest of state education, the emphasis must now be on extending the improvements seen in the primary sector into secondary schools.