Pacemakers at Merseyside

Another thanks to Stephen Downes for highlighting a post at Graham Attwell’s The Wales-Wide Web.

Eleven secondary schools in Knowsley, England (in the Merseyside area, north and east of Liverpool), will close by 2009. In Attwell’s link to this article inThe Independent, you’ll learn that the schools, which serve some 21,000 students…

…will reopen as seven state-of-the-art, round-the-clock, learning centres with the aid of Microsoft – which has already developed links with one school in the borough….

The style of learning will be completely different. The new centres will open from 7am until 10pm in both term-time and what used to be known as the school holidays. At weekends, they will open from 9am to 8pm.

Youngsters will not be taught in formal classes, nor will they stick to a rigid timetable; instead they will work online at their own speeds on programmes that are tailor-made to match their interests.

I’m stunned by the scope of this effort, which seems to involve not only what we in the U.S. would consider public schools, but also at least three Catholic schools. Wherever they’re enrolled, 21,000 high school students constitute a very large district — one the size of the Prince William County, Virginia schools (suburban Washington DC), and larger than the Denver public schools (18,300 high schoolers).

More at the Education and Learning section of the Knowsley website.