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£45m to be given to academy chains to help underperformance in disadvantaged areas

Education secretary Damian Hinds also reveals the plans for social mobility 'opportunity areas'

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Education secretary Damian Hinds also reveals the plans for social mobility 'opportunity areas'

More than £45 million will be given to successful multi-academy trusts (MATs) to help improve underperforming schools in disadvantaged areas of the country, the government has revealed.

And 75 largely school-led projects will share another £25 million to help more children from disadvantaged backgrounds as part of the government’s Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF).

The announcements, made by education secretary Damian Hinds today, include the delivery plans for former education secretary Justine Greening’s six social mobility “opportunity areas”: Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

Yesterday, a Department for Education (DfE) official revealed that the government’s flagship scheme to improve social mobility in 12 "cold spots" in England risked overloading schools.

But today further plans for the scheme, which targets £72 million at 12 areas, were announced by Mr Hinds – which included a new research school for the Ipswich opportunity area.

Highfield Nursery School, which will receive £200,000 over three years, will be the first early years setting to join a network of research schools across the country in other opportunity areas.

The school is part-funded through the government programme and partly through a joint initiative between the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE).

Low social mobility 'becoming entrenched'

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF and evidence champion for the opportunity areas, said: “We know that your chance of getting on in life is strongly linked to where you grew up and that low levels of social mobility are becoming entrenched in some parts of the UK.

“Improving outcomes for young people in these ‘coldspots’ needs a concerted effort from local partners, schools and other organisations across every stage of a young person’s life.

“So it is welcome to see this evident in today’s six plans. The need now is to move swiftly from planning to action so that children and young people experience the benefit of this investment.

“To really have an impact, change has to be informed by evidence. Our research schools will be crucial in doing this in each of the opportunity areas.

“They will help to break down barriers so that research does not stay in the pages of academic journals but has a real impact on classroom practice. Allowing teachers to use lessons from what’s worked to inform their practice can make all the difference to attainment.”

The £45 million is part of the Multi-Academy Trust Development and Improvement Fund (MDIF). And more than £30 million of this will be targeted to around 300 academy trusts in areas facing the greatest challenges across England.

Simon Bramwell, chief executive of the SS Simon and Jude Church of England MAT, has been awarded a share of the MDIF to take on and improve schools in Knowsley and Salford.

He said: “We are delighted to have been awarded MDIF funding to help support school improvement in these areas. The funding will go a long way in enabling us to provide greater capacity and sustainability for delivering the school improvement model across the trust.”

Mr Hinds said: “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.”

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