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Grimsby adventure

The depressed fishing port of Grimsby has had an unexpected offer of help - from a firm specialising in exotic holidays for teenagers.

World Challenge Expeditions is at the heart of the town's bid to revive its fortunes by becoming one of the Government's education action zones - a scheme to target help on deprived areas.

Grimsby's plans include free adventure training for every pupil and a school-linked computer in every home. It is also keen to promote "thrift" as a virtue and will ask parents to save up for education through a town-wide credit union.

Ministers have described zones as "test beds" for education in the next century. Five are planned for next September and 20 more in 1999. They will receive pound;500,000 a year for three years.

At first sight World Challenge is an unlikely partner for Grimsby, an old-fashioned Labour stronghold. The firm is best known for taking school groups on expensive expeditions as far afield as Australasia.

But it also runs courses on "key skills" and says it wants more involvement in education.

Janice Lord, North East Lincolnshire Council's assistant head of education, said the scheme is supported by the town's 17 headteachers. "We're taking an innovative approach. We're not hidebound by what's gone on in the past."

Charles Rigby, chairman of World Challenge, said the scheme is a genuine partnership. "We can offer fresh ideas and fresh impetus. But we don't want to force ourselves upon the schools."

All bids must be in by March 20.

Nicholas Pyke

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