Page last updated at 23:03 GMT, Thursday, 10 May 2007 00:03 UK

Summer school programme expanded

Minister now urge schools to register their top 10% of pupils

A programme offering extra summer study to gifted and talented children in England is being extended.

A new network of university-led summer schools will begin to provide day and residential courses for an extra 22,000 very able children from this summer.

Universities such as Cambridge, Durham, Bristol and York will work with schools to stretch the brightest pupils.

One in five secondary schools - about 700 - does not take part in the scheme, despite five years of encouragement.

Ministers now urge schools to identify their top 10% of high-achieving pupils.

The new courses come on top of the 1,050 residential places already provided.

Education minister Andrew Adonis said more had to be done to meet the needs of the very able.

High achievers

"Through the gifted and talented programme, children can already access more stretching lessons and opportunities," he said.

"These new regional summer schools harness the expertise of our leading universities for the benefit of gifted and talented pupils in state schools.

"Offering gifted and talented pupils a range of exciting out of school opportunities in their area will ensure that eligible children, no matter where they live or what their background, will receive extra support to meet their potential."

Existing courses run by Warwick University cost up to 595 for a 14-day residential summer school and up to 40 for a one-day course, but financial help is available for those on lower incomes.

Contract ending

The Department for Education and Skills could not say how much the new courses would cost students but said each hub would provide 10% of places for free.

The first of the new courses will be available from this summer, when places for an extra 3,000 gifted and talented children will be on offer.

During the following academic year, the number of places will rise to 22,000.

Last year Lord Adonis wrote to all secondary schools in England urging them to register their highest achieving pupils with the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Pupils (Nagty) based at Warwick University.

Nagty has been operating residential courses out of eight separate university campuses during the summer holidays.

However, the contract to run this academy is coming to an end in September and a new tendering process is due to be held.

It is understood that Warwick will not be bidding to run the new Learner Academy but that provision will continue in a different form.

The DfES says it has been happy with the way it has been operating.

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