Great entertainmentis all part of the service

5th March 2004 at 00:00
Every Tuesday evening, Flegg high school in Norfolk opens its doors to villagers tempted by promises of comfy seats, chocolate and Hollywood glamour.

The state secondary has used the extended-schools experiment to set up its own cinema in a village where the nearest screen is eight miles away in Great Yarmouth.

A pound;10,000 EU grant has paid for a large screen, a DVD projector, sound system, 40 cinema seats and the cost of renting or buying the required films.

There are few evening venues in the village of Martham and the school's free cinema now attracts up to 50 people every week.

This week's screening was Pirates of the Caribbean, a light-hearted adventure starring Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. Previous shows have included Moulin Rouge, Chicago and Calendar Girls.

The cinema club has 12 pupil members, some of them at risk of exclusion, and is overseen by Ken Sanderson, a teaching assistant who is paid to run the club for two hours a week.

The pupils have been trained in basic business skills and must raise funds to ensure the club's future, so they have set up a tuck shop to sell fizzy drinks and chocolate to film-goers.

Sarah Mintey, director of business and community initiatives at Flegg, said: "The club gives pupils who may be on the verge of exclusion something they enjoy coming to school for."

The cinema club is part of the extended-schools project at the school, which received pound;50,000 through the Government's pathfinder scheme.

Flegg runs about 50 other clubs, including canoeing, dance, homework, and a popular go-karting club with three 30mph karts. Its community schemes include cycling proficiency and evening classes in languages and information technology.

Alan Dyson, professor of education at Manchester university, has evaluated the Pathfinder scheme. His interim report, published last term, found that there was increasingly convincing evidence of the positive impact of the extended schools scheme.

"We have a major government initiative which is probably going in the right direction and we know it has some very positive short-term outcomes," he said.

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