Plans to raise standards in inner city schools

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A new Government scheme was being unveiled today to raise standards of schooling for children living in some of Britain's most deprived inner city areas.

A new Government scheme was being unveiled today to raise standards of schooling for children living in some of Britain's most deprived inner city areas.

Ministers are to launch 14 education action zones with each focusing on improving examination results at a secondary school and its feeder primary schools.

They cover schools in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Knowsley. The zones are part of the Government's Excellence in Cities programme

Schools standards minister Estelle Morris said: "Excellence in Cities is the Government's major programme to raise standards and expectations in urban schools.

"Part of the programme involves small education action zones, with a concentrated drive on improving standards focused on individual secondary schools and their associated primaries.

"Activities in the small action zones will include programmes to encourage parents to become more involved with the school and to boost the basics through family literacy projects."

She said the Government would invest £180 million a year in Excellence in Cities, including at least £250,000 a year for three years in each of the small EAZs, a period that may be extended by another two years.

The EAZs will be encouraged to work closely with local businesses and any sponsorship will be matched pound for pound by the Government, said the minister.

Goals for the EAZs include improving attendance and punctuality, expanding community activities, and reducing crime and drug abuse.

The Excellence in Cities initiative already operates in some 500 secondary schools in London, Manchester, Salford, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Rotherham, Knowsley and Liverpool.

Another 300 in 23 new urban areas, including Tyneside, Teesside, Leicester, Nottingham and Bristol, will also start to benefit from this month.

Participating cities also benefit from more specialist schools, computer-equipped city learning centres, provision for gifted children, on-site learning mentors in secondary schools, and better teacher recruitment packages.

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