Ministers plan to tackle ‘social mobility cold spots’
New 'opportunity areas' are to receive special government funding to support teachers and improve schools in socially deprived areas.
Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, made the announcement at the Conservative party conference, saying that her plans to tackle 'social mobility cold spots' would help children ‘get the best start in life, no matter what their background’.
The areas – initially based in Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough and West Somerset – will receive a share of £60 million to be spent on the scheme. A further four projects will be announced in the next few months once the first six have been trialled.
Under the plans, the Department for Education will work with each area to deal with problems and challenges specific to those locations. The programme will include helping children get the best start in the early years, building teaching and leadership capacity in schools, increasing access to university, strengthening technical pathways for young people, and working with employers to improve young people’s access to the right advice and experiences. Similar moves to target individual areas causing concern were first attempted by Tony Blair’s government, which created a network of ‘education action zones’ to raise standards.
The 10 areas will also have access to a £75 million Excellence in Leadership and Teaching Fund to boost the standard of school leadership.
Ms Greening told delegates: "Ensuring all children can access high quality education at every stage is critical. This is about giving children in these areas the right knowledge and skills, advice at the right time and great experiences.
"My department will work with local authorities, education and skills providers, businesses and the wider community, not just to focus on what we can do to help inside schools, but also create the opportunities outside school that will broaden horizons for young people."
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