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SPECIAL PROGRAMMES FOR SCHOOLS IN DISADVANTAGED AREAS HAVE A 'POSITIVE IMPACT'

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Two major government initiatives aimed at tackling barriers to ...
Two major government initiatives aimed at tackling barriers to

achievement faced by pupils in disadvantaged areas are having many

positive benefits, the chief inspector of schools said

today, though their effect on attainment has been uneven.

The Office for Standards in Education report, Excellence in Cities

and Education Action Zones: management and impact, found that the

programmes have helped schools and teachers to meet the needs of

disaffected and vulnerable pupils more effectively. The report also

found that exclusions are being reduced and attendance is improving

at a faster rate in the schools involved in the programmes.

The effect of the programmes on attainment has been variable in

relation to the national picture. The introduction of the Excellence

in Cities (EiC) programme has been associated with a faster rise in

standards in secondary schools in EiC areas than nationally. The

later extension of the programme to primary schools means that it is

too early to see a clear effect on standards at the end of primary

school, but the signs are positive. Excellence in Cities strands

include: learning mentors, learning support units, provision for

gifted & talented pupils as well as City Learning Centres and

additional specialist schools. Education Action Zones (EAZ)

programmes have had more effect on attainment in the primary schools

than in the secondary schools involved.

Chief inspector David Bell said :

'I am pleased to report that these programmes are providing pupils

with a broader range of opportunities and helping to raise

aspirations, confidence and self-esteem of young people in the most

disadvantaged areas. However, more needs to be done to ensure that

they help consistently to raise attainment across the board.'

The report, published today, found:

- Excellence in Cities (EiC) and Education Action Zones (EAZ) have

provided pupils with a broader range of opportunities and a re helping

to raise their aspirations, confidence and self-esteem. Exclusions

are being reduced and attendance is improving at a faster rate in the

schools benefiting from this funding than in the nation as a whole.

- EiC provision has had more impact on raising standards and

improving inclusion than EAZ activities.

- The EiC programme has strengthened co-operation between schools

and local education authorities. Its planning, funding and structures

are simpler than that of EAZs and its emphasis on making provision

directly for pupils is straightforward to interpret.

- The main strands of EiC match the needs of schools and, overall,

they have been implemented well. Secondary schools have generally

used the funding productively and adapted their provision

successfully to suit their pupils. The later introduction of the

scheme to primary schools is showing promise.

- Attainment in schools in EiC areas has risen relative to national

results at the end of Key Stage 3 and in the proportion of pupils

gaining five or more A*-C and one or more A*-G grades at GCSE. The

gap with national results remains, but has closed, especially between

2001 and 2002.

- The EAZs in the first round had a limited initial impact on school

improvement, mainly because over-ambitious plans did not always focus

on the challenges faced by schools in their areas. The management of

zones has subsequently improved.

- EAZs have helped to develop co-operation between schools and have

made some very productive links with the business community.

- The impact of EAZ programmes on attainment has been stronger in

primary schools, where standards in English and mathematics have been

rising at a faster rate than nationally, than in secondary schools.

In secondary schools the effect of EAZs has been greater in tackling

disaffection and promoting inclusion than in raising attainment.

Results at Key Stage 3 and GCSE remain well below the national

averages.

- Both programmes have had the greatest benefits in schools where

leadership and management are very good. Attention to the

implications of the schemes for management in schools was

insufficient at their inception, but more attention has been given to

these implications as the schemes have developed.

The report makes recommendations including: simplifying sources of

funding; providing more secure guidance and training; giving more

support for improving school management and raising the quality of

teaching; and continuing to focus on tackling poor attendance.

David Bell added: 'Overall both programmes are making a positive

impact in schools in disadvantaged areas, but not comprehensively and

consistently so. There is no room for complacency. There are rapid

improvements in some schools but this is offset by the disappointing

progress, or even decline, of others.'

NOTES

1. The report, Excellence in Cities and Education Action Zones:

management and impact, ref HMI 1399, is available here.

2. The report covers only those secondary schools in phase 1 of the

EiC programme and the primary schools in the 'expansion' programme.

It only covers round 1 Education Action Zones.

3. Case studies are available - please contact Ofsted press office

for further information.

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