Holiday work from home

11th August 2000 at 01:00
NEARLY 40 pupils from Kent and Somerset are attending the same summer school, without leaving home.

The venture is an extension of the KentSomerset virtual education action zone set up last year. Ian Lynch, the zone director, said it allowed pupils from more than one school to participate.

The school is for gifted and talented pupils, who, he said, are well-suited to the experiment as they are more able to learn independently.

The 11 and 12-year-olds participate by accessing a secure website on their home computer. There are 50 hours of English, maths and technology activities themed around next month's summer Olympic Games, to be completed over four weeks in August.

Group work will be possible by using software that lets pupils collaborate online with others, wherever they are.

The ClassAct eCampus system, helps pupils to become autonomous lerners, Mr Lynch said, but it also allows teachers to monitor their progress.

If the technology passes its summer-school test, it will be introduced to the 24 schools in the zone later this year.

While pupils can view a "teambook" with pictures of all the participants, they will get a chance to meet them in the flesh at an activity day at Rochester airfield later this month. The highest-achieving pupil will get a free flying lesson.

"Within the constraints of the geography and costs we're trying to get some balance between doing things that are Internet-based and those that are social and practical," Mr Lynch said.

Pupils who complete the course will get about pound;30 each to help pay their telephone bills. Two who did not have computers have been loaned a machine for the exercise.

Virtual summer school can be found on www.new-horizons.ac


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