Behaviour and Attendance

Drive to raise education standards in areas most in need

New Education Secretary unveils plans to drive up standards by supporting underperforming schools and increase opportunities in areas most in need.

Raising education standards by supporting underperforming schools and offering young people more opportunities to make the best of their lives are at the heart of a package of measures announced today by Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

Aimed particularly at disadvantaged areas across the country, today’s moves include:

  • More than £45million awarded to successful multi-academy trusts to help tackle underperformance and improve schools in areas that lack capacity;
  • 75 projects sharing £25million to provide more support for schools, many of which will increase pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills; and
  • The publication of the next six Opportunity Area plans in Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

The announcement builds on the government’s record of 1.9million more children now in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, England’s pupils now amongst the world’s best readers and GCSE and A levels reformed to match the best education systems in the world.

As part of the Multi-Academy Trust Development and Improvement Fund (MDIF), announced in October 2017, over £45million will support multi-academy trusts to drive improvement. More than £30million of this will be targeted to around 300 academy trusts in areas facing the greatest challenges across England. The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed in recent years – by 7% at GCSE and 10.5% at KS2 since 2011.

The money will go to more than 400 multi-academy trusts (MATs) with a proven record to help them build their capacity so they can help drive further improvements and raise standards. Ofsted data shows that 450,000 children are studying in sponsored academies rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ that were typically previously underperforming.

Under the latest round of the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF), 75 largely school-led initiatives will share £25million to help more children from disadvantaged backgrounds, including many to support to help master the basics of reading and maths in primary school. Overall, the SSIF is worth up to £280million over two years. It targets resources at the schools most in need to improve school performance, support teacher development and drive up pupil attainment.

The next six Opportunity Area plans – for Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent – have been developed with local educators, employers and voluntary and community organisations and set out how they will improve the life chances of young people in these communities.

They follow the publication of the government’s social mobility action plan Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential in December which focuses £800million of resources on those areas that can benefit the most. All 12 Opportunity Areas will benefit from a share of £22 million through a new Essential Life Skills programme, to help young people in these areas develop life skills in resilience, wellbeing and employability.

Among the initiatives confirmed today in the latest round of the Strategic School Improvement Fund is Cotgrave Candleby Lane School, a teaching school in Nottinghamshire. Funding will be used to improve reading outcomes across primary education by focusing on phonics and other reading practices in early years education, the teaching of comprehension at Key Stage 2, and measures to close or narrow the attainment gap between pupils.