Zones host too many initiatives

An Ofsted report on Education Action Zones in round two of the
programme has found they share the strengths and weaknesses of EAZs
in the first round – too many initiatives, and too little focus on
improving attainment in secondary schools.

The inspection looked at a different, single issue in each of 10
round 2 EAZs. The issues included attendance, key stage 2/3
transition, dealing with disaffection, behaviour management and
raising pupils’ self-esteem.

The government set up 73 EAZs in 1998 and 1999, 25 in round 1
and 48 in round 2 a year later. They receive up to £1m from
the DfES and private sector sponsorship and are expected to improve
not only examination results but to effect “structural and cultural
change in… education in some of the country’s most
disadvantaged areas”.

Despite the criticisms Ofsted found some highly effective work.
All zones have helped their schools to work more closely together
and most have established helpful links with local partners.

But most of the 48 round 2 Education Action Zones are not
targeting difficult issues directly enough, says the report. Most
have too many initiatives and many of them are not linked clearly
to the issues that need attention, especially in secondary

Most have not effectively supported schools in re-integrating
pupils whose education has been interrupted because of absence,
mobility or exclusion. There is also a problem with accountability
and evaluation. Zones usually had too little data and inadequate
methods of evaluation to be able to judge the effectiveness of
their programmes.

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