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CITY SCHOOLS ON THE UP - ESTELLE MORRIS

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After three years,£500m investment, 2,000 schools, 1.5 million ...
After three years,£500m investment, 2,000 schools, 1.5 million

pupils and 4,000 jobs, two new reports review the impact of Excellence

in Cities - the government's flagship education programme for urban

areas.

New research shows many city schools are improving, with standards

rising faster than in their suburban counterparts, education and

skills secretary Estelle Morris said today.

Launching the Excellence in Cities Annual Report at Charles Edward

Brooke School in Lambeth, Estelle Morris met pupils and teachers to

see first hand the innovative work that is aimed at cutting bad

behaviour and raising standards in city classrooms.

Since its launch in September 1999, the Excellence in Cities

programme has provided over£500m of additional funding to

pupils in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.

Provisional findings from a major independent evaluation of

Excellence in Cities published today reveal that there is 'a near

consensus existing between the different parties involved as to the

benefits of EiC' and note that 'to date, there have been some

significant early impacts of Excellence in Cities, particularly in

relation to Learning Mentors, Learning Support Units and City

Learning Centres.'

Also published today, the department for education and skills'

Excellence in Cities Annual Report reveals that nearly one-third of

the country's secondary school population currently attend an

Excellence in Cities school. EiC provides:

- A Learning Mentor for all who need it, to help raise achievement

and reduce disaffection by removing barriers to pupils' learning;

- Learning Support Units, where disruptive pupils can be given

teaching and support in small groups, helping to address their

specific needs without the need for exclusion, but without

disturbing the education of their classmates;

- City learning centres, full of state-of-the-art technology, which

can be used by pupils, parents and the local community;

- Special provision for gifted and talented pupils, including more

challenging everyday lessons, special lessons and activities both

in and out of school time and the expertise of a gifted and

talented co-ordinator.

The Excellence in Cities programme has also increased the number of

beacon and specialist schools in inner-city areas; established over

100 Excellence in Cities Action Zones; helped supply high-quality

governors to inner-city schools through the school governors

One-Stop-Shop and supported research and innovative projects in

schools and LEAs through its innovative projects fund.

Speaking at the launch, Ms Morris said:

'Excellence in Cities was designed to help remove the postcode

lottery of education. Through a substantial programme of investment -

the equivalent of over£270 per pupil - we are providing urban

schools with additional resources to really make a difference to the

education of their pupils. This investment is already beginning to

pay off - for instance, improvements in national tests taken by

14-year-olds last year were stronger in Excellence in Cities schools

than elsewhere, with English standards rising four times as fast in

EiC schools.

'Excellence in Cities has been introduced with speed and commitment.

It would not have been possible without the dedication of schools and

local authorities and those who work within them, and we are looking

forward to building upon the success of EiC as we roll out more

Excellence Clusters and Excellence in Cities Action Zones in

September.'

The Excellence in Cities Annual Report is available hereand

the interim report of the Excellence in Cities evaluation consortium

will be published in the next few weeks.

Notes

1. Excellence in Cities was launched by the prime minister and

David Blunkett in March 1999 initially in six key

urban areas: Inner London; Manchester/Salford; Liverpool/Knowsley;

Birmingham; Leeds/Bradford and Sheffield/Rotherham. Since then

there have been two successive expansions and the initiative now

covers 58 authority areas across all our major cities. In addition

the initiative is being piloted in some primary schools in the

original EiC areas. The programme also now includes Excellence

Clusters where the government is building on EiC - and Education

Action Zones - to target smaller pockets of deprivation.

2. To date, the government has made£511.2m available for

Excellence in Cities. By 2003-2004 this will rise to over£300m

a year as the programme is fully implemented across all

areas.

3. The main 'strands' of Excellence in Cities include:

- Specially-trained learning mentors in every secondary school and

many primaries, who work with pupils to remove barriers to learning

and reduce disaffection;

- City learning centres, equipped with cutting-edge technology which

can be used by local schools and the community;

- Extra opportunities for gifted and talented pupils through summer

schools, more challenging everyday lessons and out-of-school

provision;

- Self-contained learning support units to give challenging pupils

intensive help and support without disrupting the education of

their classmates;

- More specialist and beacon schools.

- Excellence in Cities Action Zones to raise standards in one or more

secondary school(s) and associated primaries.

4. Standards are rising faster in EiC areas than elsewhere. The

latest statistics compiled by the Department indicate that

improvements in English and maths for 14-year-olds are particularly

good, with an improvement four times greater for English in EiC

areas than in non-EiC areas. In the first phase LEAs, where

Excellence in Cities has been in place for two years, the

percentage of pupils gaining five or more A* to C GCSEs rose by

2.9% between 1999 and 2001, compared with 2.1% for non-EiC areas

and areas which have been included in EiC for less than two years.

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