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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
London schools to get more funds
children's feet
Schools in London are improving, ministers say
A government programme to pump extra funds into schools in deprived parts of London is being extended for another three years - and to other cities.

Currently, 40m a year is spent on what is known as The London Challenge.

Money goes to boroughs and schools and funds are also used to attract teachers and develop their skills.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson says the programme has led to record GCSE results for the capital and will be extended to other parts of England.

He told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers annual conference in Bournemouth: "We will identify two other parts of the country afflicted with the same problems which once blighted the capital, and develop similar schemes to resolve them."

The scheme began in 2003 and was due to end in 2008.

"London Challenge has had a major impact on raising standards in areas which had previously been written off as educational disaster zones," said Mr Johnson.

"More than 16,000 pupils at London schools now obtain five good GCSEs compared to 1997. Results in inner London continue to improve faster than anywhere else in the country.

"This dramatic turnaround is no accident, but the result of sustained investment and a relentless focus on standards."

An announcement on which other areas will be targeted in similar schemes is expected in a few weeks' time.

Homework trips and residential trips

Under the programme, 70 schools in London have been targeted for extra help, which might include special advisors, learning mentors or homework revision clubs.

Resources are also put into schemes available to all schools across the capital, such as the Gifted and Talented London project, where children are given extra activities designed to stretch them.

Money is also spent on residential trips for under-privileged children.

London Challenge also supports measures to attract teachers to the capital such as help with housing loans.

The government says all London boroughs improved their GCSE results - including maths and English - last year.

No London borough now had below 43% of pupils achieving five good GCSEs, while in 1997, nearly two-thirds were below that level.

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