§ Angela Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will report on the progress of the first round of education action zones. 146W
§ Ms Estelle Morris
These zones have now been running for 12 to 16 months and the early signs are that they are doing well. The summer 1999 exam results show that the zones are raising standards in these disadvantaged areas. At Key Stage 2, there was a 6 per cent. average improvement in English and 12 per cent. improvement in maths in EAZ schools compared to national increases of 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. There was a 2 per cent. average improvement in the numbers of pupils gaining 1 GCSE A*-G grade in EAZ schools compared to a national increase of 1 per cent.
The Comptroller and Auditor General yesterday placed in both Libraries of Parliament audited financial accounts for the 1998–99 financial year for four of the first round zones. These show that, even in their first seven months of operation, the zones attracted significant additional funding to education from the private and public sectors.