Opinions divided over boot camps

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PLANS for summer boot camps for struggling youngsters have been met with a mixed reaction on Wearside.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced proposals for a £50million project aimed at children about to start secondary school in some of the country’s most disadvantaged areas.

He linked this summer’s riots to educational failure and said young people who go off the rails were often ones who had struggled in early years.

He said secondary schools would be asked to volunteer to hold the summer schools, which could offer basic skills such as literacy for 100,000 pupils and help children make the transition into secondary education.

But Howard Brown, the National Union of Teachers’ divisional officer for Wearside, said the cash should be used to provide safe and stimulating childcare services.

He said: “Almost all secondary schools will begin their transition protocols in October to ensure a smooth transition. Primary and secondary schools have worked extremely closely for at least the last 10 years on this issue.”

He said there were lots of questions which needed answering about the summer schools, such as who will identity the children in danger of falling behind and will other pupils be excluded.

Councillor Robert Oliver, the Sunderland Conservative party spokesman on education, doesn’t fully share Mr Clegg’s link between educational attainment and the riots.

But he said: “With up to six weeks for parents to fill with activities, it is a good idea to use some of the time to improve basic skills or otherwise it is difficult for pupils to catch up once they start secondary school. With the UK falling behind other countries such as China in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic, it is essential that the focus is on the ‘Three Rs’ as more traditional education systems are making faster progress because they get the basics right.”

Twitter: @Sunechoschools