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Thursday, November 12, 1998 Published at 17:15 GMT


£430m for ethnic minority education

David Blunkett wants to improve black pupils' achievements

Schools are to receive extra funds to improve the educational achievement of pupils from ethnic minorities.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has announced an investment of £430m over the next three years to overcome underachievement among black and Asian pupils.

[ image: Extra funding for ethnic minority education from David Blunkett keeps a Labour Party promise]
Extra funding for ethnic minority education from David Blunkett keeps a Labour Party promise
This extra funding, in part drawn from money shifted from the Home Office to the Department for Education, marks the restoration of what was once known as 'Section 11' funding of ethnic minority education.

Tony Blair had previously committed the government to protecting the extra funding, which had come under threat in cuts before the last election.

"Children from ethnic minorities are an important and vibrant part of today's Britain and it is vital that we ensure they have the same opportunities to succeed as everyone else," Mr Blunkett said.

Speaking to black and Asian business people, the Education Secretary said that "too many children from ethnic minority backgrounds are under-performing".

"If you are black or of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origins your chance of gaining five good GCSEs is half that of white pupils."

The extra funds, which will be given directly to schools rather than through local authorities, will allow headteachers to spend wherever they believe the money is most appropriate - whether for staff or resources.

This will include providing support for schools with pupils who have English as a second language.

The Conservative education spokesperson, Theresa May, rejected the move as an attempt to "pull the wool over people's eyes".

"It is all very well the government claiming that they are giving more money for ethnic minority pupils, but we know that they are thinking of cutting the money to local councils for ethnic minority pupils next year."

The National Association of Head Teachers particularly welcomed the prospect of schools rather than local authorities becoming responsible for the funding.

"It is teachers and other school staff who have to deliver high standards for pupils from the thnic minority communities and they deserve to be properly trained and adequately resourced," said NAHT General Secretary, David Hart.

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