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New initiative aims to improve south Wales schools

16/08/2013 Kelly
Two south Wales local authorities have unveiled plans to work together to help staff in education jobs in raising attainment in their schools.

On Tuesday, August 20th, Swansea Council's cabinet will be asked to approve proposals for establishing a new School Improvement Service (SIS) in tandem with Neath Port Talbot Council.

This programme is designed to improve reading, writing and maths skills among pupils, with a particular focus on reducing the achievement gap between children from deprived backgrounds and their peers.

It will also target help at schools deemed in need of improvement, with a view to raising teaching and learning standards, as well as enhancing school leadership and management.

Should both councils back the proposals, the SIS could be implemented within 12 months, building on an improvement programme already taking place at a regional level with Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys.

Councillor Will Evans, Swansea's cabinet member for education, explained: "The idea behind the service is to bring together the best ideas and expertise and use common resources to improve the performance of struggling schools and make sure pupils are getting the support they need."

He said efforts had already been made to raise attainment in Swansea, with the result that exam performance is improving and less than one per cent of pupils in the area left school without any qualifications last year.

The council has also introduced a number of literacy initiatives to bolster reading skills among very young children, to ensure they are well prepared for starting school.

Swansea and Neath Port Talbot are also among eight local authority areas to benefit from a £1.2 million Welsh government package announced in June to help pupils from the country's most deprived communities fare better at school.

Official figures show the gap in performance between pupils eligible for free school meals and other children has shrunk in Wales at key stages two and three over the past six years.

At key stage four, the disparity between deprived and non-deprived children's performance had been widening up to 2010, but has since also begun to get smaller.

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