Ipswich among disadvantaged areas to see government school funding boost

Suffolk GCSE pupils are offered tuition at the University of Suffolk as part of government Opportuni

Suffolk GCSE pupils are offered tuition at the University of Suffolk as part of government Opportunity Area funding Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich school pupils are set to benefit from an additional share of £18 million in funding thanks to a scheme aiming to help the UK’s most disadvantaged areas.

The funding comes as part of the government's Opportunity Areas programme, which has so far seen £72m invested in literacy, maths, attendance and post-16 options.

The scheme has already seen benefits in the town, with 240 Saturday maths classes for 75 pupils requiring additional tuition seeing GCSE predicted grades rise by 1.3.

Known as 'What A Difference A Day Makes', the classes also aim to improve children's social skills ahead of moves to college and further education.

Now entering its fourth year, it is hoped the scheme will help continue to support the town's children, alongside continuing free bus travel and food for disadvantaged year 11 pupils.

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Chantry Academy principal Craig D'Cunha, who serves on the Ipswich Opportunity board, said: "Over the last three years projects have been really effective. It is a real bonus for the people of Ipswich.

"Through projects like 'What A Difference A Day Makes', it helps increase pupils chances post-16 and tells them 'You can do it'.

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"What makes it great is it doesn't have a competitive element, it's all about schools coming together to take collective responsibility for children in Ipswich."

Other areas benefitting from the funding include Norwich and Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, with others taking inspiration from Ipswich's maths project.

Not only focusing on pupils, the scheme also helps to aid teacher training and recruitment, with the University of Suffolk offering work experience, volunteering and paid tutoring opportunities and experience programmes for undergraduates in the county looking to get into teaching.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson MP said: "Ability is evenly spread across the country, but opportunity isn't. We're determined to put right the wrongs of places left behind and see the Opportunity Area programme grow - helping local leaders and schools to tackle some of the greatest challenges young people face.

"It's not just about what happens now in these 12 areas but the impact these projects will have on future generations and paving the way for them to overcome obstacles to success."

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