Exclusive: DfE gives 56 projects almost £20m in first round of school improvement grants

Strategic School Improvement Fund aims to see academies and maintained schools work together

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A project to improve reading in deprived areas is among 56 programmes included in the first round of grants from a flagship government fund.

Today’s awards from the Strategic School Improvement Fund, which was announced in November 2016, will see almost £20 million allocated to schemes that involve more than 1,300 schools.

Education secretary Justine Greening said that the package was designed to encourage greater collaboration between academies and maintained schools.

Each project is being delivered by schools and local authorities, including groups of academies and maintained schools.

They include:

  • The Inspiration Trust supporting 14 academy and local authority primary schools to tackle chronic low attainment in reading for children in some of the most deprived areas across Norfolk and Suffolk – from the Norwich Opportunity Area to King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Thetford, and Lowestoft.
  • A project led by Swavesey Village College that aims to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to make higher levels of progress in modern foreign languages and science from Year 3 to Year 11. It will initially involve nine secondary and 14 primary schools across Cambridgeshire, to develop common materials and resources to ensure they are better equipped for the transition between primary and secondary.
  • The Hackney Learning Trust, which will work with 21 primary schools and more than 7,000 pupils across London, Suffolk and East Sussex to introduce approaches to raising attainment in reading.

Ms Greening said: “This fund is about helping schools raise their performance by investing in evidence-led work, targeted at those areas where it will make the most difference.

“Tapping into the expertise that already exists in the system and encouraging all schools, whether academies or maintained, to work together, will allow us to spread excellence and have a real impact on children’s lives.

“With the help of the Education Endowment Foundation, I am confident that we have identified projects that will make a real difference by driving up standards and ensuring that even more children have access to a good school place.”

The overall fund will rise to a total £280 million over the next two years, with the second round of bidding for the fund opening later this month. 

The DfE said a number of roadshows will be run across the country in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation to help potential applicants put together strong proposals based on an understanding of the evidence of how to secure sustainable improvement.

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