Liberal Democrat News 27th July 2012
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
Clegg launches summer schools
As the school holidays began last week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg went to a school in Pimlico, London, to see one of the first summer schools in action. He went to find out how the scheme is supporting those pupils most at risk from falling behind in their transition from primary to secondary school.
Nearly 2,000 new summer schools will open their classroom doors in July and August to help some of the most disadvantaged pupils in England, benefitting around 65,000 children.
Many pupils find the move to a bigger school - and a more challenging curriculum - daunting, which can lead to a dip in their performance. Pupils who fall behind at this stage often never catch up.
Students eligible for free school meals regularly under-perform compared to their peers. At the end of primary education, just under 58 per cent of disadvantaged pupils achieve the expected level of attainment, compared with almost 78 per cent of other pupils. These attainment gaps often widen as pupils progress through school.
The new summer schools programme was announced by Nick in September last year. Secondary schools will provide extra support to disadvantaged pupils making the transition from primary school to help improve their educational attainment.
The extra 'brain training' will include catch up classes such as literacy and numeracy boosters, sessions to familiarise them with secondary school life, plus arts, music or sporting activity. The curriculum for the two weeks will be designed by individual schools to give maximum flexibility so that courses are tailored to pupils' needs.
"This is £50m worth of extra brain training, giving tens of thousands of disadvantaged pupils a flying start at secondary school,"
"It's two weeks in the summer holidays where pupils can catch up on learning and get to grips with life in secondary school - in short, get in the starting blocks ready for the off in September.
"Those who struggle to make the transition are often among the poorest in society, but two weeks of activities can really help to bridge the gap.
"It's good news for mums and dads too - no parent wants their child to be left out and fall behind. But not everyone has the luxury of taking long periods off work during the summer break. Summer schools will ensure pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds can start secondary school on an equal footing with their peers, setting them up to succeed."
Children's Minister Sarah Teather said:
"These brilliant summer schools give those children that need it a head start and the extra help they need so that they are well prepared to succeed at this crucial stage of their education career."