Welsh Government
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Schools Challenge Cymru will be game changer for Welsh education says First Minister

Schools Challenge Cymru – a £20 million a year package of support to boost the performance of up to 40 of Wales’ underperforming secondary schools has been announced by First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and Education and Skills Minister Huw Lewis.
The Challenge will inject extra cash into some of Wales’ poorest performing schools, providing specifically targeted support to help them to make improvements in their pupils’ levels of attainment.

Schools Challenge Cymru will deliver a relentless focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning through professional development, promoting leadership by developing leaders for now and the future underpinned by an unflinching belief that all children can achieve with high aspirations for all.

The programme will build on the elements proven to work in the successful London and Manchester challenges, adapting them to a Welsh context, bringing in expertise from all over the UK. Some of Wales’ finest and highest performing schools will also be involved, sharing expertise and leadership, supporting teachers in Challenge Cymru schools to achieve the improvements needed.

The Challenge is set to begin in September 2014 and details of criteria for involvement and which schools have been selected will be announced in due course. The participating schools will be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that the support delivers real improvements.

The First Minister and Education Minister will launch the Challenge at Dyffryn School in Neath Port Talbot, a school from a deprived area in Wales which is punching above its weight, performing well above the national average on Free School Meal achievement. Dyffryn have also been involved in school to school support through the Lead and Emerging Practitioner programme.  

First Minister Carwyn Jones said:

"If we’re to raise standards and performance in education in Wales across the board we need to boost attainment levels of schools which are underperforming and we know could do better.

"The significant funding we’ve announced today is going to make a huge difference to those schools chosen to take on Schools Challenge Cymru.

"It’s going to be a real game changer, providing a generous package of tailored support to help them realise their potential."

Education Minister Huw Lewis said:

"We need more of our schools to be like Dyffryn School. They don’t let the fact they are in a challenging area hold them back from setting high standards, performing well and giving their pupils a bright future.

"The Challenge we’ve announced today learns from the lessons of London and Manchester, but with a Welsh twist - unique to Wales with Welsh pupils at its heart.

"I’ve called this a challenge for a reason. Today I’m issuing a challenge to school leaders, senior teacher, consortia, governors and even learners. It’s a challenge to improve.

"We know school performance needs to get better and we’re taking the actions needed to make this happen. Schools Challenge Cymru will support this; after all, our young people deserve nothing less than the best."

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