Damian Hinds announces education drive for disadvantaged areas

By Neil Puffett and Megan Agnew

| 19 January 2018

New Education Secretary unveils plans to drive up standards by supporting underperforming schools and increase opportunities in areas most in need.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced plans to plans to drive up standards in disadvantaged areas. Picture: DfE

Alongside the publication of the six more "opportunity area plans", Hinds said £45m will go to successful multi-academy trusts to help tackle underperformance and improve schools in areas that lack capacity.

Meanwhile, a total of 75 projects, many of which are designed to increase pupils' literacy and numeracy skills will share £25m of government money.

The plans published today reveal that Highfield Nursery School in Ipswich will become a research school. Backed with £200,000 of funding, it will be the first early years setting to be a research school out of 23 across the country.

Damian Hinds said: "As Education Secretary, I want all children to get a truly world-class education that not only inspires them to make the most of their lives but also gives them the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions, no matter where they live.

"Standards are rising in schools across the country but there is more to do to make sure that every child benefits from the progress we've already made thanks to an incredibly talented generation of teachers.

"By supporting good and outstanding schools to help others improve, and focusing on disadvantaged areas where our young people need extra help, we can continue to make a difference to people's everyday lives and build a Britain that's fit for the future."

Publication of the six opportunity area plans, which cover Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent, come three months after the first six were published.

The opportunity areas initiative, first announced in October 2016, is seeking to boost children and young people's life chances in 12 English districts that score poorly on social mobility.

As part of the Multi-Academy Trust Development and Improvement Fund, announced in October 2017, more than £45m will support multi-academy trusts to drive improvement.

More than £30m of this will be targeted to around 300 academy trusts in areas facing the greatest challenges across England.

Meanwhile, under the latest round of the Strategic School Improvement Fund, 75 largely school-led initiatives will share £25m to support more children from disadvantaged backgrounds, including many to help master the basics of reading and maths in primary school.

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