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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 01:15 GMT
Cash boost for out-of-school learning

pupils playing clarinets close-up Some of the money will pay for music programmes

Grants totalling 15m are to be used to create out-of-school hours activity programmes for children, it was announced on Thursday.

Under the plans, pupils at 782 schools across the UK will benefit from a cash boost of almost 11.4m for new and expanded learning projects.

And 6,000 new childcare places will be provided with nearly 2.3m of National Lottery money from the government's New Opportunities Fund.

The fund was set up last year for health, education and environment projects.

Baroness Pitkeathley, chair of the fund, said that in all 135 projects would receive fresh funding.

"Since we launched these programmes in the spring of this year, we have allocated close to 28m to create almost 31,000 new childcare places," she said.

"Through our out-of-schools learning programme 1,226 schools have been able to help thousands of young people, improving their self-esteem and educational achievements.

"Children, their parents and communities throughout the UK are benefiting and we plan to do a great deal more in the year ahead."

'Astonishing impact'

In the West Midlands alone, 400 schools will share 6.7m for out-of-hours learning projects.

The Children's University and the University of the First Age will co-ordinate much of the work in Birmingham, where officials hope to raise achievement, particularly in disadvantaged areas of the city.

Maggie Farrar, National Director of the University of the First Age, said: "This is a tremendous opportunity for Birmingham to provide inspiring, high quality out-of-hours learning experiences to many more young people.

"We know that having a chance to learn beyond the mainstream school curriculum is one of the keys to raising achievement and inspiring a love of learning for life and we want this chance to be within reach of as many youngsters as possible."

In Yorkshire, a 500,000 grant will provide arts and music programmes for pupils from disadvantaged areas at 21 schools.

'New passion'

Professional artists will be involved in the "Sounding Out" project, led by Yorkshire Youth and Music (YYM).

Jan Hinde, YYM director, said: "Working with professional musicians is an inspiration and an eye-opener for these youngsters, broadening their horizons and often giving them a new passion for learning.

"Our work can have an astonishing impact on children, often those who most badly need to shine or prove themselves."

Children who have English as a second language will also be helped through the fund's first grant to a Saturday Supplementary School in London.

Benn Omotayo, the project's director, said: "Not only will the grant enable us to raise the achievement of these pupils in literacy and numeracy, but also raise their self-confidence and help put them on an equal footing when they attend secondary education."

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See also:
13 Jul 99 |  Education
Thousands to get childcare places
01 Oct 99 |  UK Politics
Smith touts Net ticket giveaway
08 Apr 99 |  Education
Lottery cash for out-of-school lessons

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