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
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
* 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.
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
- Excellence Clusters to tackle small pockets of disadvantage within
- Opportunities for more pupils to set their sights at Higher
Education through Aim Higher (previously called Excellence
- 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.