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Every child may go to camp

Pupils could be sent away on week-long summer camps, under plans being considered by the Government, writes Neal Smith.

Schools minister David Miliband is working on proposals to guarantee a week of activities at an outdoor centre for every child at some point in their secondary years. However, the idea has received mixed responses from heads and parents.

The multi-million-pound scheme aims to broaden children's horizons, make them enthusiastic about school and give them more confidence.

But John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said that the funding crisis needed to be resolved first. He said: "There are many other calls on government funding."

But he welcomed the idea "in the medium term". "It wll create opportunities for all children currently available only to those who can afford it," he said.

Teaching unions are also concerned about safety and liability of members on outdoor trips. Stricter controls on outdoor activity centres have been introduced following high-profile accidents.

Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations, welcomed the camps but added: "Parents will want assurances over safety."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the scheme was an "excellent idea" but the Government would have to come up with the cash.

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