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Heads throw hats into zone ring

A GROUP of heads in Doncaster is bidding to run an education action zone.

The school-led consortium is planning a "classroom-up" model and is negotiating its bid as part of the second round of zones. It will consist of one secondary school, Danum, six feeder schools, a special school and the hospital teaching service.

Mike Pagett, head of Park primary and chair of the schools' group, said:

"We will start at the classroom level and concentrate on putting support and resources there. The local authority, chamber of commerce and health and social services will be partners, but it will be school-led."

Although the schools have had good inspection reports, the heads are concerned that achievement is still low and has reached a plateau. They would use the extra money - up to pound;1 million - the zones bring to promote family learning. "We need to change the learning culture in this part of town," said Mr Pagett.

The heads want to forge links with Doncaster's health action zone and provide a brokerage system, with hotlines and helplines linking the school community with a range of services.

Liz Paver, head of Intake first school, said: "The first round of zones can be viewed as a top-down model - we want to reverse that. We want the needs of the classroom teacher to be the driver within the system. It is a new way forward for a group of schools to tackle underachievement and standards and the quality of life in schools."

The bid would look at ways of teaching children of above-average as well as below-average ability. The schools also want to be able to move teachers with expertise within the group, buy-in specialist teachers and employ more classroom assistants.

The deadline for action zone bids is April 16. A number of other school-based schemes are expected although the majority will be local authority-inspired. A departure in this round could be zones that link schools with similar need rather than proximity.

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