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INNER-CITY SCHOOLS RAISE STANDARDS FASTER THAN ANY OTHER AREA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN BRITISH HISTORY

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For the first time in British history, schools in inner-city areas ...
For the first time in British history, schools in inner-city areas

are raising their standards faster than anywhere else in the country,

school standards minister David Miliband said today at the Excellence

in Cities annual conference in Birmingham.

Excellence in Cities (EiC), the government's targeted programme of

support for urban schools, is helping to transform education in some

of the country's toughest areas.

Mr Miliband said that the government is breaking the culture of low

aspiration and under-achievement traditionally associated with

schools in inner-city areas. High expectation for every individual

pupil and every young person underpins the EiC programme and is

creating a cultural shift which means urban schools are now leading

the national drive for higher standards.

Speaking at the EiC conference Mr Miliband said:

'Every child, whatever their background, has the right to achieve

their full potential. The rate of improvement in inner cities is

demonstrating that, for the first time in British history, growing up

in an urban area is no longer a barrier to educational success.

'Excellence in Cities brings together a package of measures that is

allowing schools to meet the personal learning needs of the

individual pupil and meaning that inner cities are leading by

example'.

Excellence in Cities has expanded to cover 57 authorities since its

launch in 1999 and is centred on those areas that have the highest

levels of deprivation. Figures associated with the programme are

striking:

* last year, schools in EiC areas improved on average at twice the

rate of schools elsewhere. This includes notable regional successes

such as: Gateshead where secondary schools have improved on average

by more than four times as fast as schools nationally;

Barking & Dagenham where secondary schools have improved almost three

times as fast as schools nationally, and;

Birmingham and Wandsworth where secondary schools have improved more

than twice as fast as schools nationally.

* since 1997, the percentage of students, aged 15 or 16, achieving

five good grades at GCSE has risen 8% nationally - surpassed by rises

of 11%, 13% and 14% in London, Manchester and Birmingham;

* the percentage of 11 year olds leaving primary schools with a

reading and writing age of 11 has risen by 12% nationally. But it has

risen 17% in Inner London, 14% in Manchester, 13% in Birmingham and

14% in Sheffield;

* Key Stage 3 performance tables in 2003 also show that EiC schools

are improving at a faster rate in English and maths and at the same

rate in science than in non-EiC schools;

* preliminary findings of the formal evaluation of EiC and Ofsted

studies shows that Excellence in Cities is having a positive impact

on behaviour, attendance and attainment of young people.

High aspirations for pupils must be reflected in high aspirations for

the school as a whole. Excellence in Cities schools are encouraged to

develop their own ethos and goals, to create innovative partnerships

and work in collaboration to share good practice and make the most of

local resources. The government is supporting this local level reform

through ongoing investment. Since its launch in 1999, over£1 billion

has been invested in Excellence in Cities to be followed by a further

£700m between now and March 2006. One of the most successful strands

of the Excellence in Cities Programme is EiC Learning Mentors.

Recently praised by Ofsted, Learning Mentors are non-teaching school

support staff who help individual pupils reduce barriers to learning.

There are currently 10,000 learning mentors working with teachers in

primary and secondary schools in 59 EiC partnerships.

The Gifted and Talented strand of Excellence in Cities centres on

provision for the brightest students. Five years ago their needs

were too often left unfulfilled. Now the top 5-10% of students are

identified by ability and provided with a tailored teaching and

learning programme and complementary out of school study support.

This reaches over 150,000 students in 2000 maintained primary and

1,000 maintained secondary schools. But the effect is even bigger. The

professional arm of the national academy brings support staff,

teachers and head teachers together to collaborate on best practice

in the teaching and learning of gifted and talented students, and to

use these strategies to improve provision for all students.

NOTES

This Press Notice applies to England.

1. Excellence in Cities (EiC) was launched in March 1999 as a

targeted programme of support for deprived secondary schools in major

cities where standards had been too low for too long. Support

included Learning Mentors to help pupils overcome barriers to

learning, extended opportunities for gifted and talented pupils,

learning support units to tackle disruption, City Learning Centres to

provide state of the art ICT, and more specialist schools. Since then

the programme has not only expanded geographically - it now covers 57

authorities - but has also widened its focus to include:

- Support for disadvantaged primary schools. Originally covering the

first 25 EiC authorities, from 2004 EiC will be targeted to all

schools where, on average, 35 per cent or more of pupils have been

eligible for free school meals for the past three years. Funding will

be allocated to LEAs against the total number of pupils in these

schools;

- Excellence Clusters to tackle small pockets of disadvantage within

authorities;

- Opportunities for more pupils to set their sights at Higher

Education through Aim Higher (previously called Excellence

Challenge);

- School Leadership through the Leadership Incentive Grant.

- Behaviour Improvement Programme (BIP)

2. Performance figures in EiC areas demonstrate the impact that the

programme is having on raising standards. Between 2000 and 2003 the

percentage of young people gaining 5 A*-C GCSEs in England rose by 4%

points. In Birmingham, over the same period there was a 9% point

rise, in Leeds 4%, London 10%, Liverpool 6%, and Manchester 10%.

3. The majority of EiC local education authorities are developing

area wide plans to ensure all their secondary schools gain specialist

status within the next two to three years. The impact of specialist

status on rising standards was demonstrated in performance tables for

2003 which showed that 56.7 per cent of pupils in specialists

achieved five good grades compared to 49.2 per cent in

non-specialists - a difference of 7.5 percentage points.

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