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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Struggling pupils get extra help
Ruth Kelly
Ruth Kelly wants more focus on the progress of individual pupils
Individual tuition is to be made available for struggling pupils in state schools, the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced.

Speaking in advance of a forthcoming education White Paper, Ms Kelly promised 120m for "catch-up" lessons in English and maths.

An Ofsted report recently highlighted the problem of children failing to achieve the basics in literacy.

Teachers said such individual tuition could bring "enormous benefits".

In a speech to teachers in central London, Ms Kelly has said more attention must be paid to the individual needs of children - rather than only focusing on measuring the success of whole schools.

'One-to-one' lessons

This will be supported by providing extra funding - 60m per year for two years beginning in September 2006.

It will help pupils, at primary and secondary level, who are falling behind and those who are "gifted and talented".

Small group and one-to-one tuition for pupils who are struggling makes perfect sense. Wealthier parents routinely pay private tutors for this kind of support
Martin Ward, Secondary Heads Association

This would provide extra staff who would give one-to-one tuition or lessons in small groups, aimed specifically at pupils who are lagging behind.

Gifted pupils would receive more challenging lessons and weekend "masterclasses".

"We need more catch-up and stretch - particularly in literacy and numeracy," says the education secretary.

"A key way to do that will be to have more one-to-one and small group tuition for pupils who would benefit alongside excellent, everyday classroom teaching," she said.

The funding will be targeted at schools with the highest number of pupils falling behind - and there will school funding for 11 to 14 year olds which will be "earmarked" for personalised learning.

Teachers' and heads' unions welcomed the announcement - with the National Union of Teachers' general secretary, Steve Sinnott, saying such personalised tuition will bring "enormous benefits to young people who need extra help".

Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said that providing individual lessons "makes perfect sense. Wealthier parents routinely pay private tutors for this kind of support and schools already provide it when resources allow".

Earlier this month, Ofsted inspectors warned of the problems created when pupils start in secondary school without adequate skills in literacy and numeracy - and how a lack of these basic skills becomes a barrier to learning other subjects.

At present, about one in five pupils do not reach the expected level for English at the age of 11.

The education secretary wants to widen access to the type of individualised teaching which better-off children might already be receiving from private tutors.

The forthcoming White Paper will have the key themes of "choice and personalisation", Ms Kelly has promised.

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