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Zone teachers feel excluded

EDUCATION action zones have failed to win over the most important people in the enterprise - namely, the teachers expected to deliver higher standards.

A survey of staff in the 12 zones launched last September, found more than 70 per cent felt excluded from key decisions and uninformed of important changes.

Many were sceptical of seeing any improvement in standards - or their jobs - and complained of extra paperwork, time-wasting meetings and money spent on bureaucracy.

The National Union of Teachers, which carried out the survey of its members, warned that the flagship Government initiative risked failure unless more effort was made to engage teachers.

Union general secretary Doug McAvoy said: "Too many teachers feel excluded from the development of the zones. The Government must listen to teachers before deciding future developments."

The findings were revealed at an NUT seminar yesterday - where schools minister Charles Clarke agreed that teacher commitment was vital to success and urged them to embrace innovation.

The innovations called for by the 212 teachers responding to the survey were, unsurprisingly, smaller classes; more classroom assistants; and more support for children with special needs.

Yet one Herefordshire teacher realised there were unexpected bonuses:

"Retaining the threat of withdrawal from the EAZ is giving our school greater influence."

* The Education Partnership has dropped out of the race to be the first private company running a state school. The company has withdrawn its bid to run the school on the site of the failing Kings' Manor comprehensive in Guildford, Surrey. This follows a split between the Education Partnership and one of its backers, the high-profile American Edison Project.

Three companies are now competing for the contract. The Centre for British Teachers, a not-for-profit company; the City Technology College Kingshurst; and Nord Anglia. All have submitted bids to the Conservative-controlled county council and will make presentations to parents, teachers and the community today.

Zones in action, 15

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