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Who dares wins on the swot team

Pupils at a Leicestershire school gave up two days of their holidays to do a spot of Christmas swotting.

King Edward VII Upper School in Melton Mowbray opened its doors on the Monday before Christmas to give keen pupils access to the school's computer facilities.

The programme, nicknamed SAS (Supporting Achievement of Students) was repeated on Monday, and builds on the success of an earlier experiment in the Easter holidays.

The school already runs twice- weekly homework clubs, and decided to extend the out-of-hours sessions in response to requests from pupils. "It's all about the creative use of facilities and getting students to work independently and to take more responsibility for their own work," says Kath Lee, head of resources. "The feedback from the students has been very positive."

Around 10 per cent of year 10 and 11 pupils have taken advantage of the scheme, which enables them to catch up on course work and prepare for exams with supervision and support from volunteer teachers. Headteacher Ken Walsh hopes to expand the scheme to run at weekends during term-time. "We are in a rural location and those students need to make the best use of the hours in the school day."

He believes that giving pupils extra opportunities to use new technology encourages them to organise their studying and is an ideal preparation for the world of work.

"I am sure that this is the way for the future. It's not just about raising standards, it's about changing their way of learning."

The school's recently redesigned independent learning centre boasts 60 workstations, and for many of the pupils it is an invaluable resource. For sixth-former Neil Smith it provides a chance to polish off some programming for his computing A-level.

"I don't have a computer at home so this really helps. The computers here are fast and there aren't so many people using them."

Adrian Molloy, 14, was putting the finishing touches to a questionnaire as part of a design project. "This is really good - it gives you a chance to catch up on homework and assignments. If I wasn't here I would probably be having a lie-in."

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