Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 07:32 UK

Project 'yet to help' poor pupils

Pupil writing
Schools have used their money to improve literacy

A plan designed to help Wales' poorest pupils has yet to produce any major changes in performance, say inspectors.

About £14m a year has been spent since 2006 on the Welsh Assembly Government Raise programme to improve the literacy of the most disadvantaged children.

But education watchdog body Estyn found that those pupils still "perform significantly less well" at key stages.

The assembly government said it was committed to tacking poverty's negative effects on educational progress.

Raise (Raise Attainment and Individual Standards in Education) was launched by the assembly government in May 2006.

Money was targeted at schools with a high proportion of pupils receiving free school meals - those deemed to be the most economically and socially disadvantaged.

We now need to ensure that the legacy of the funding has a long-term effect on improving standards and performance
Meilyr Rowlands, managing inspector, Estyn

About 20% of schools with at least 50 pupils were identified, with the amount of money given to individual schools ranging from £11,000 - £30,000 for primary schools and £47,000 - £220,000 for secondary schools.

According to the report by Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, the money has been used to pay for additional staff and resources to work with those poorest children.

Most schools have used the money to concentrate on reading and writing, but some used the cash to set up homework clubs, others to fund behaviour projects and to work on improve attendance.

Estyn's inspectors judged the progress of pupils on Raise-funded work to be at least good in about 80% of the schools visited, a clear improvement on the sample of schools visited last year.

But they found that although there have been positive effects from the funding on disadvantaged pupils involved in Raise-funded activities, there have been no major changes in the performance of free school meals pupils nationally yet.

Free school meal

There was a slight indication of positive effects in primary schools, the report found, but the performance levels of free school meal pupils in secondary school have deteriorated.

Inspectors said that evidence of longer term trends on standards may not be seen until 2009 or beyond.

We are pleased that the Raise programme has had a positive impact on pupils involved in Raise-funded activities and has been significant in the development of pupils' personal, learning and social skills
Welsh Assembly Government

The report makes a number of recommendations for schools, local authorities and the Welsh Assembly Government.

These include implementing strategies to close the attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils and using data more effectively to help improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.

Meilyr Rowlands, Estyn's managing inspector, maintained that the impact of Raise had been significant on the development of pupils' personal, learning and social skills.

"We now need to ensure that the legacy of the funding has a long-term effect on improving standards and performance," she said.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "We welcome the recommendations made in Estyn's report on third year of the Raise programme.

"We are pleased that the Raise programme has had a positive impact on pupils involved in Raise-funded activities and has been significant in the development of pupils' personal, learning and social skills.

"The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to tacking the negative effects of poverty on educational progress through programmes such as Raise which has laid solid foundations for disadvantaged learners to benefit now and in the longer term."



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SEE ALSO
Poverty's 'legacy' on learning
26 Mar 09 |  Wales
Children's reading not improving
31 Mar 09 |  Wales
Primary age behaviour is targeted
15 May 08 |  Wales

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