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School's out and order's in;Briefing

France. Schools minister Segolene Royal has announced plans to bring order and consistency to out-of-school activities.

Currently teachers run after-school homework sessions or provide childcare through the parents' association, but they are not responsible for organising activities for children when classes are over, on Wednesday (a day off), or during the holidays.

These times are filled by local initiatives run by sports, cultural and voluntary associations.

Under Mme Royal's plan local educational contracts will be signed by departmental authorities and the associations concerned.

The education ministry will take overall charge of the new arrangements, in collaboration with the ministries of Youth and Sport and of the Town, though the departement will be responsible at local level for organising the out-of-school activities such as theatre groups, computer studies and sport. Priority will be given to children in poor or isolated areas.

The reorganisation mostly concerns primary and lower secondary pupils, and directives will recommend opening school premises after class and during holidays.

The project will be financed out of existing funds and by local authorities. It will be staffed throughout the year by classroom assistants employed on the government's youth job creation scheme.

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