Bristol gets share of £1m for bright pupils
Gifted and talented students in some of Bristol's secondary schools could be in line for a cash boost under a new £1 million Government programme.
Children's Secretary Ed Balls announced the funding as part of a package of extra support for National Challenge schools – those with the lowest exam results.
Half of Bristol's 11-16 schools come into this category, having achieved GCSE figures below the Government's "floor target".
But both Mr Balls and Schools Minister Jim Knight have said although results are still low in the city, they are satisfied with the steps Bristol is taking to raise attainment.
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Mr Balls said this week the £1m would fund a three-year drive to support gifted and talented pupils, which would in turn spread benefits to all children.
Participating schools will benefit from help from experienced teachers; academic study support; and a matched bursary of £250 per year (£125 from the National Challenge budget and £125 met locally) to help youngsters from low income families meet costs of tailored programmes.
Mr Balls said: "National Challenge is a hugely ambitious school improvement programme designed to raise standards so that every school is a good school, giving parents a real choice for their children.
"The gifted and talented drive demonstrates our expectation National Challenge schools will improve education for all their learners, not just those below the GCSE threshold.
"We want to support selected schools to develop an expertise that will place them at the leading edge educationally – and that will help them to attract parents and pupils as they grow stronger."
Local authorities including Bristol City Council have had to put forward plans to Mr Balls's Department for Children, Schools and Families for helping their National Challenge schools to improve.
As part of the next step, the DCSF will fund National Challenge advisers to work with schools to speed up their improvement.
Bristol City Council spokeswoman Julia Walton said: "We are continuing to work closely with the Government to support National Challenge schools. The DCSF has given us positive feedback on our plans so far.
"We expect the extra funding for Bristol to be confirmed before Christmas and we are already putting in place advisers for each of our National Challenge schools."
Mr Balls also announced a change to the admissions code that will mean a more National Challenge schools will not have to admit pupils with challenging behaviour outside the normal admissions round.
Currently all schools who take on excluded Year 11 pupils mid-year can have their results removed from the school's overall results.
Ministers are going further for Bristol schools in the most challenging circumstances by allowing schools with fewer than 20 per cent of their pupils achieving five good GCSEs, including English and maths, to decline to take on pupils with challenging behaviour from other schools mid year.