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London - Challenge initiative gets new chief

The new leader of an Pounds 80 million scheme to improve standards in London's schools has been announced by the Government.

David Woods has taken over as chief adviser of London Challenge, replacing Sir Mike Tomlinson, who retired this year.

The initiative was launched in 2003 to raise standards in the capital's secondaries. Last year, 51 per cent of pupils in London left school with five good GCSEs, including English and maths, compared with 48 per cent nationally. It was the fourth year running that London outperformed the national average.

Professor Woods, a former chief education adviser in Birmingham, has been working with London Challenge since it began.

He also advises the Government on its controversial National Challenge programme for schools with low GCSE results.

London Challenge has received funding until 2011 to support primaries and secondaries, and it aims to narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor pupils.

Professor Woods said: "Although the impact of London Challenge has been considerable so far, I am confident our partnership approach to continue the drive to raise standards will ensure underperformance is abolished." DM.

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