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How to win homework funds

Schools will be given advice on how they can get lottery money for homework clubs under a code of practice to be issued next week, writes Nicolas Barnard.

The Prince's Trust, which has been giving financial support for after-school activities for five years, has drawn up guidelines for schools on setting up study support schemes to raise standards.

The guidelines, which are endorsed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, will be launched at the trust's third national study support conference next Tuesday.

Molly Lowell, the trust's senior manager for study support, said the majority of schools were now running some form of scheme, but arrangements were often ad hoc.

Labour has pledged Pounds 150 million for homework clubs out of profits from the National Lottery's midweek draw. It wants to see clubs run in half of all secondary schools and a quarter of all primaries by 2001.

Ms Lowell said: "There is a huge amount of work going on in schools. But it's either not co-ordinated or not giving the maximum benefit.

"A school might have a mentoring scheme, a homework scheme run separately and a residential scheme to reach particularly disaffected children. When they come together there is a wealth of know-ledge."

The Prince's Trust is also running its own evaluation of a pilot network of study support clubs run by local authorities, education business partnerships and training and enterprise councils across England.

The three-year programme began earlier this term with tests on pupils participating to establish a baseline for their abilities.

In a letter to next week's conference, Mr Blair welcomes the code's "structured but flexible approach" and writes: "I am confident the code will do much to ensure the development of good standards in schools, libraries and youth organisations."

The Government is keen to see a range of types of homework club, based in a variety of settings from the classroom to the community centre, to meet local needs.

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