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Saturday, October 9, 1999 Published at 00:59 GMT 01:59 UK


Cash boost focus on minorities

Asian pupils are often high achievers - more so than other minorities

The underachievement of ethnic minority pupils is to be tackled with extra funds from the government.

Local education authorities are to receive £162m next year to help schools to raise the academic performance of children from ethnic minority and traveller families - a 7% increase on this year.

[ image: Jacqui Smith says the 7% increase in funding will help to hire extra support staff]
Jacqui Smith says the 7% increase in funding will help to hire extra support staff
There have been longstanding concerns that ethnic minority pupils are less likely to perform well in exams and are more likely to be excluded than their white counterparts.

The funding - the Ethnic Minority Achievement and Traveller Grant - will provide extra teachers and classroom assistants and will support summer schools aimed specifically for ethnic minority pupils.

Announcing the grant, the Schools Minister Jacqui Smith said that the funding was intended to help pupils "at risk of underachieving and to meet the needs of pupils for whom English is not their first language".

"While many Asian children do better than others in exams, achievement in other minority communities is far too weak."

Ofsted inspections

In order to qualify for the funding, local authorities must set attainment targets for the progress of ethnic minority and traveller pupils.

From next year, inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education will also be reporting on how well schools provide for their ethnic minority pupils.

The Professional Association of Teachers welcomed the announcement, but with the observation that it might allow the re-employment of specialist teachers who had been made redundant last year when the funding arrangements had been overhauled.

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