Businesses around the UK are contributing some 37 million pounds in sponsorship for schools in Education Action Zones. The Government provides a further 100 million pounds to support the Zones. The Zones are partnerships between parents, schools, businesses, Local Education Authorities, Learning and Skills Councils and clusters of schools established to raise standards in deprived areas. The 131 Zones are located in some of the most deprived areas of England and their aim is to raise standards in participating schools in new and innovative learning. They also seek to foster a more co-operative learning environment with people working together to achieve the best results.In the two years since the first zone was launched they have achieved improvements in primary and secondary schools with exam results improving faster than the national average. The Zones have brought in new skills, extra resources, and management expertise introduced through the participation of 850 businesses. Because of this success the three year life of some 70 zones has now been extended for a further two years.
UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis has warned that privatisation in whatever guise will lead to the demise of quality public services. He called for the unions to unite behind a common campaign for keeping the public services public. He argued that as well as developments in health, systematic privatization continues in local government. He cited Best Value, housing stock transfer and out-sourcing as different means of privatisation.