Tuesday 17 July 2007

Staying on (after the bell)

Today's new report from the think tank Centreforum is a bit more interesting than the usual response to deprivation in schools. It proposes a simpler funding formula attached to individual disadvantaged pupils, which is sensible, though would require considerable transition funding before it could be introduced. Conventionally, it argues that this could be used to fund smaller primary classes (although teaching assistants are doing a lot already to cut adult: pupil ratios). It also advocates 'hard to serve' bonuses in inner city schools, but rightly wants these linked to performance bonuses. But perhaps its most controversial idea is that pupils would be taught for longer hours. A government spokesman is too hasty in dismissing the idea. After all, the more imaginative American schools have shown it could make a real difference. So do some of the best city academies and specialist schools. And Labour has already introduced Saturday classes to stretch brighter pupils, and extended schools to enrich the curriculum. This idea is surely worthy of a pilot.

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