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RAISING STANDARDS FOR VULNERABLE CHILDREN ESSENTIAL - SCHOOLS MINISTER

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The government is pressing ahead with measures to raise educational ...
The government is pressing ahead with measures to raise educational

standards among vulnerable children to give them the life chances

they deserve, schools minister Charles Clarke said.

Speaking at a conference in London organised by the National

Children's Bureau, Mr Clarke outlined how his department was striving

to boost achievement among children who truant, are excluded from

school, from ethnic minority backgrounds, those in care and traveller

children.

Mr Clarke said: 'We can only raise standards for vulnerable children

if they are in school and learning. That's why we are spending nearly

£500m over the next three years to reduce the level of truancy

and avoidable exclusions by a third by 2002.

'We have issued new guidance on attendance, pupil behaviour,

exclusions and education out of school. The emphasis is on early

intervention and prevention through multi-agency working which will

provide a long-term solution.

'We are determined to raise educational attainment among those ethnic

groups which are under-performing. Our£430m Ethnic Minority

Achievement Grant is targeting teachers and teaching assistants where

they are most needed to improve understanding of English.'

'And we are currently working hard to raise achievement for children

in care. New guidance launched by David Blunkett last month

recommended designated teachers in every school and an onus on social

services to secure education at the same time as finding care

placements.

'Of course, vulnerable children may be particularly susceptible to

bullying and at risk of drugs misuse. We are ensuring that children

are protected from bullying. We have introduced legislation which

requires from this September that headteachers have an anti-bullying

policy in place.

'The government is also ensuring that pupils are given information on

drugs appropriate to their age and experience so that they can resist

them before they are drawn into experimentation. My department issued

new drug education guidance in November last year showing how drug

education could be delivered effectively.

'We fully recognise that schools and children need the support and

encouragement of parents in their education about the dangers of

drugs. For several years now we have been supporting LEAs' community

drug awareness programmes which have proved effective in raising

levels of parental involvement.'

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