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Learn from the three wise men

How sad that not one of your assembled commentators identified a key factor in educational disadvantage (TES, August 8): that experience out of school hours is at least as influential as during school time.

Professor Tim Brighouse calculated that up to the age of 16 young people spend an average of nine minutes per waking hour in school. What are we providing for those other 51 minutes ?

Mike Tomlinson, when he was chief inspector of schools, noted that every year thousands of young people are turned off by the national curriculum. What are we doing to raise motivation?

Sir Herman Ouseley, then chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, in his report after the 2001 Bradford riot, noted young people were "desperate for adequate leisure and recreation opportunities". Why has this not changed in seven years ?

None of these observations is recent yet little has been done to act upon them. Perhaps these three wise men should be invited to meet and suggest a plan that would take a holistic view of young people's educational, social and personal development. Elements might include:

- provision of positive motivational activities as an entitlement for all;

- inclusion of outdoor learning, with provision for those excluded by mixed gender groups and residential provision;

- moving all examinations to before Easter to allow young people to use light summer evenings for enrichment activities;

- employing young adults as part-time activity supervisors to act as role models and mentors for younger people; and

- reforming the shambolic Youth Opportunity Fund so that all 13- to 19- year-olds know of it.

It is hardly surprising people drop out of education if they cannot gain access to activities they enjoy and which motivate them.

Chris Johnson, Chair, North of England Activities and Training, Bradford.

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