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Community "hubs" and overseas trips

Critics claim the Government is excessively immodest when it proclaims in its Green Paper: "We will be accused of being visionary and excessively ambitious. We plead guilty."

But away from the well-trailed, headline-grabbing proposals for fast-track trainees and performance-related pay, some interesting ideas are floated.

Ministers have already suggested that a cluster of small primaries could be run by a single headteacher and that idea is repeated in the paper. These schools find it hard to recruit heads - control of a federation of schools offers more challenge and better pay, while giving an opportunity to pool resources.

The paper also suggests small primaries could become community "hubs", bringing education and other services together on one site with one manager - presumably an opportunity for heads to diversify. They could include community health and social services, an early excellence centre and adult education.

Elsewhere, a programme of overseas exchanges for teachers is to be launched in 2000 which would emphasise the fact that "schools are increasingly part of a wider international community". By 2002, up to 5,000 teachers a year would take part in study visits, exchanges and short-term and long-term placements overseas.

Inner-city schools and others which find it hard to recruit will be given the freedom to pay "salary supplements" to attract and retain staff. Unfortunately they won't be given the cash to go with it.

But failing schools will be able to claim money from their local authority's School Improvement Grant to pay an increased salary to attract a strong head who could get the school out of special measures.

University undergraduates and postgraduates could come into schools as part-time "teaching associates" to support classroom teachers. As a spin-off, some of them might even decide to become teachers themselves.

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