'This is another re-hash of policy, dressed up as a launch. It shows the failure of Education Action Zones so far.
'EAZs were supposed to bring in businesses to manage schools and encourage innovation in schools. In the first round over 90% of the bids were led by local education authorities and business has been slow in coming forward with their matching funds. We still don`t know how much money has actually come in to EAZs. There is even talk of a cut in government funding.
'No amount of photo-opportunities with the prime minister will get over the fact that the government have failed to deliver as promised on EAZs.'
EDUCATION ACTION ZONES ARE INTENDED TO BRING BUSINESS INTO MANAGING SCHOOLS. YET OF THE FIRST 60 BIDS, 57 WERE LED BY LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITIES (LEA)
ANY CHANGES TO THE BIDDING PROCESS IN THE NEXT ROUND WILL BE AN ACCEPTANCE BY THE GOVERNMENT THAT ITS POLICY HAS BEEN FAILING
BUSINESSES ARE SUPPOSED TO PROVIDE 250,000 EACH YEAR FOR THEIR EDUCATION ACTION ZONE BUT THERE IS NO RULE OF HOW MUCH SHOULD BE IN CASH AND HOW MUCH WILL BE IN KIND. THE GOVERNMENT HAS REPEATEDLY SAID IT WILL NOT GIVE ANY FIGURE ON WHAT HAS BEEN FORTHCOMING
A DFEE SOURCE SUGGESTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS WORRIED ABOUT THE LACK OF MATCHING FUNDING AND IS TALKING ABOUT PAYING OUT LESS MONEY TO EDUCATION ACTION ZONES IN THE SECOND AND THIRD YEARS. GOVERNMENT FUDING COULD BE CUT BY 250,000 A YEAR TO 500,000
ACADEMIC RESEARCH SHOWS THAT IN THE FIRST ROUND OF BIDDING, MINISTERS WERE HARD PRESSED TO FIND THE 35 BIDS THEY WANTED TO ACCEPT - ONLY 22 WERE CONSIDERED GOOD ENOUGH TO SHORTLIST. OFFICIALS HAD TO SCRAPE TOGETHER TO FIND ANOTHER 3 GOOD ENOUGH TO MAKE UP THE NUMBERS
THE FORUMS RUNNING THE EDUCATION ACTION ZONES ARE BUREAUCRATIC AND UNWEILDY, E.G. HALIFAX EAZ FORUM CAN HAVE A MAXIMUM OF 89 MEMBERS, PLYMOUTH 82 AND BIRMINGHAM 77. HOW CAN YOU RUN AN EDUCATION ACTION ZONE WITH 89 PEOPLE SITTING AROUND THE TABLE?
EDUCATION ACTION ZONES WERE SUPPOSED TO BE INNOVATIVE BUT ACADEMIC RESEARCHERS DESCRIBED THE WINNING BIDS IN THE FIRST ROUND SO FAR AS `SAFE`. MANY SO-CALLED INNOVATIONS MERELY REFLECTED EXISTING PRACTICES OR POLICY, EG HOMEWORK CLUBS, ADVANCED SKILLS TEASCHERS, USE OF THE INTERNET, SUMMER LITERACY SCHOOLS
AT LEAST ONE EAZ IS BELIEVED TO HAVE HAD DIFFICULTY GETTING A DIRECTOR IN PLACE AND HAD TO RE-ADVERTISE THE POST
CONSULTANTS ARTHUR ANDERSON HAVE SAID THERE IS NOT ENOUGH MONEY GOING INTO THE EAZS TO EFFECT RADICAL CHANGE.