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£60M BID TO TRANSFORM SCHOOL SCIENCE LABS

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Obsolete science laboratories in England's secondary schools will be transformed with a new£60m allocation from th...
Obsolete science laboratories in England's secondary schools will be transformed with a new£60m allocation from the capital modernisation fund (CMF), school standards ninister Estelle Morris announced today.

Around 400 secondary schools will benefit over the next two years from the new money. The new CMF allocation will provide new laboratories as well as refurbishing others, and increase the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in science education.

It is the first government initiative to directly tackle the problem of unsuitable accommodation to deliver the national curriculum. Approximately 750 schools - 21 per cent of secondaries in England - have poor science accommodation.

Speaking at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' (ATL) annual conference in Belfast, Ms Morris said: 'Although we are world leaders in science education, young people are not achieving their full potential in science. Evidence suggests pupils make six terms' progress in science at Key Stage 3 instead of nine.

'The revised national curriculum, which takes effect in September this year, places greater emphasis on scientific investigation - evidence gathering, experimentation and observation. Seeing science in action - not just reading about it in books - engages pupils in the subject and makes it relevant and interesting.'

'The national curriculum provides the framework for science, and this investment in school laboratories will provide the tools. It will give pupils the opportunity to practise science and develop the skills and disciplines of scientific investigation, helping improve achievement at Key Stages 3 and 4.

'Hi-tech facilities will mean better resources for teachers and will boost participation rates in science courses at schools. It should also have a knock-on effect on the take-up of science as an A-level subject and at undergraduate level.

'This£60m is in addition to the government's three year£5.9bn investment programme in school buildings up until 2002, with£1.8bn available for the current financial year in central government support for building projects at maintained schools.

'Last year we helped to reverse the trend of declining recruitment to initial teacher training in maths and science. The number of graduates recruited to train as secondary science teachers rose by 4% in 1999-2000 and is now very close to target. The training salaries and new style golden hello incentives David Blunkett announced last month will help to ensure this improvement continues. This boost to science laboratories should mean no prospective science teacher is put off by the quality of teaching equipment available to them.'

Welcoming the new allocation, chief secretary to the Treasury Andrew Smith said: 'This modernising project will help inspire many more children to study science in greater depth. The skills acquired will be vital to their future job opportunities. Jobs with scientific and research skills will help build uponBritain's strong science base. This will play a part in stimulating a whole new generation of successful British scientists.'

Ms Morris also launched today a consultation on a new£70m grant to reward high performing headteachers, deputy headteachers and advanced skills teachers (ASTs).

She said: 'We are responding to what governors have been asking us to do.

Additional to the£180 per pupil real terms extra funding which schools have this year, the grant will be up to£70m over two years, enabling schools to reward high-performing heads, deputies and ASTs. The grant will also support schools for the costs of moving deputies to the new leadership spine.'

Ms Morris added: 'It doesn't surprise me that the ATL executive are backing the new

pay structure. They know a good deal when they see one. It offers a substantial pay increase -£2,000 on top of the general 3.3% increase - for experienced teachers who are doing a good job, and most are. It also means access to four further pay points of around£1,000 each for sustained and substantial achievement.

'But it's not just about enabling teachers who want to concentrate on the classroom to earn more. Our pay reforms create a much clearer distinction between rewards for good teaching and recognition of extra responsibilities. A teacher with five points on the upper pay range and five management allowances could earn nearly£40,000.

'In May we will launch a pilot scheme of professional bursaries for classroom teachers to help them pursue their own professional development goals. We are committing£10m over two years for this. From September, up to£500 will be available for individual teachers in nine local education authorities to spend on their choiceof professional development activities. For those teachers in

Excellence in Cities areas and education action zones within these authorities, we will be offering an enhanced sum of£700.'

NOTES

1. The£60m is a new allocation from the capital modernisation fund. In July 1999, Treasury invited all departments to submit bids for Round 2 of the capital modernisation fund (CMF). This cross-Whitehall fund provides additional resources for innovative capital projects which will improve key services or public infrastructure. Round 2, for the years 2000-01 and 2001-02, is worth£700m. Departments were notified of their successful bids after the Budget.

2. The capital modernisation fund was set up in the comprehensive spending review to support capital investment to improve public services. An additional£200m was added to the fund for 2000-01 as part of the Budget 2000 announcement to take the total size of the Fund to£2.7bn over 1999-00 to 2001-02.

3. Schools minister Jacqui Smith told the Association of Science Education Conference in March that£41,000 was available to them to help science teachers continue their professional development through an Open University accredited scheme.

4. David Blunkett wrote to statutory STRB consultees and local education authorities today to set out the government's proposals for a grant to support performance pay progression for high performing heads, deputies and advanced skills teachers, and the costs of assimilating deputies to the new leadership spine. The letter invited views by 19 May 2000. It can be accessed at http://www.dfee.gov.uk/teachingreforms.

5. Under teachers' pay arrangements, governing bodies make decisions about whether a pay point based on performance should be awarded to a head, deputy or AST based on review of performance against previously agreed objectives.

For heads and deputies one of these objectives must relate to pupil progress and another to leadership of the school. The grant will support many heads, deputies and ASTs to receive performance pay points.

6. The£70m is funded from the extra£1bn for teachers' pay reforms. The grant is intended to support the contribution which schools make towards performance pay for headteachers. The grant will also support schools with the costs of assimilating deputies to the new leadership spine at a set rate of£900 for each deputy during the academic year from September 2000. Schools will receive direct funding at a rate of£540 per deputy during the following academic year. Detailed assimilation arrangements will be set out in the draft school teachers' pay and conditions document, on which a separate consultation will begin soon.

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