Success mustn't be fringe benefit

28th August 1998 at 01:00
Summer schools are one of the Government's success stories - even if their effect on actual reading levels has been short-lived. Their real importance is twofold: easing the transition from primary to secondary school by improving pupils' attitudes to learning; and sending out crucial signals to young people, their parents and the world at large.

One key message is that out-of-school work has an important role in raising achievement - one of this Government's genuine innovative ideas. It underscores the theme that society as a whole has a duty to educate the younger generation.

Summer schools also hammer home the message that 11-year-olds whose skills are not up to scratch will find it hard to survive in secondary school. The picture of teachers giving up their holiday to work with struggling pupils shows how seriously they take the issue - and also publicly demonstrates their commitment to tackling it.

Extending the scheme will require even more volunteers; to achieve this aim, summer schools need to be progressively integrated into schools' overall strategies. What's more, the experience gained by participating teachers should play a part in improving their career prospects. Otherwise this successful innovation risks remaining a fringe activity.

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