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What the teachers say;Opinion

Fears of Labour agenda hamper action zone plan

Karen Morris, Year 4 teacher, Angel Road middle school, Norwich, Norfolk:

"A lot depends on the criteria used to decide where the education action zones will be. Money alone is not the answer to everything but extra resources should be shared. Why should schools that are working successfully with their kids be penalised?

"Paying teachers in action zones more sounds like the idea of 'super-teachers' to me, which I find abhorrent. It may be that they have to work in more challenging circumstances but how do you judge who is doing the better job?" Amanda Morgan, design and technology teacher at Mill Hill county high school, north London: "My own experience of organising events sponsored by industry is how hard it is to set up. It makes me wonder how easy it would be to get the private money needed for an action zone.

"It worries me that the schools in the zone would be taken out of the local authority's influence. Surely if they stayed within the borough the extra money could still be used to raise standards? Schools in the zone will be out on a limb.

"They should be spending money on resources, not on staffing. I'd rather see money spent on materials than on my salary."

Phillip Snell, head of Kingsbury high school, in Harrow: "If they are going to commit support as well as money, then I would welcome it.

"Dropping the national curriculum would worry me. One would not want to remove the broad range of opportunities from all students for the sake of a few. But it might be agreed that the curriculum could be modified for individual students.

"The issue of payment to teachers is a minefield. It would imply that teachers outside an action zone are not working as hard or are not as good, which is not the case."

Joyce Robinson, deputy head for curriculum, Addington high school, Croydon, which forms part of an action zone bid: "We are interested in the idea of working with all the other schools on the estate. I am happy with anything that brings extra resources and support to target underachievement.

"There are many aspects of the action zones which have not been clearly laid out yet. But I am completely happy with everything I know so far. Varying the national curriculum will benefit children who need more vocational training.

"There have been a few niggles about varying teachers' contracts but these are all things that have yet to be consulted on. So far we are happy to bid, but if we became worried about anything we could always change our minds."

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