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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 17 October 2005


Legal Services

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Bridget Prentice): My right hon. and and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) has made the following written statement in the other place today:

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Personalised Learning

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Ruth Kelly): I am announcing today a step change in the support that the Government are providing to promote personalised learning.

It is this Government's central aim in education to promote excellence and equality. Providing more personalised support to children and young people, giving them strength in the basics in literacy and numeracy, stretching their aspirations, and focusing on their individual strengths, weaknesses and interests, is the key to delivering this.

The school reforms that this Government have introduced since 1997 have achieved much, and this summer's test and exam results by pupils aged 11,14 and 16 were the highest ever. But we remain ambitious to go much further, and in particular to close the persistent gaps in attainment between children of different ethnic groups and social classes.

I am therefore announcing today that we intend to target £335 million, by 2007–08, specifically earmarked within the new Dedicated Schools Grant, to improve the personalisation of learning for all students in Key Stage 3.

With this resource, I expect all secondary schools to provide to pupils who need it, comprehensive and intensive catch up support in literacy and numeracy, embracing, where appropriate, one-to-one and small group tuition. Mastery of English and mathematics is the necessary foundation for all children and young people to succeed in school and beyond, and must be the first priority of everyone in the education system. Through the Government's Secondary National Strategy we will continue to offer guidance, teaching and learning materials of high quality and expert consultancy support to enable schools to take advantage of the new resources available.

The great majority of children, of course, have not fallen behind: they too deserve a personalised education. I also expect this investment to improve the support for gifted and talented pupils; and, also, through the development of extended services, to help to provide access to extra support or tuition in subject areas and other activities where children and young people have a particular interest or aptitude.
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It must be for teachers and parents to decide together what will best meet a particular child's needs and potential. But, through School Improvement Partners and the new OFSTED inspection regime, every secondary school will be expected to demonstrate that it is planning and delivering intensive catch up support where it is needed; and tailored teaching and learning for every child.

In recognition of the importance of personalisation for those children from deprived backgrounds, within the overall school funding settlement we will target this investment particularly towards Local Authorities with the largest numbers of deprived children, and will expect Local Authorities to ensure that they focus it, in particular, towards their most deprived schools and those facing the greatest challenges. I will announce further details of this funding later this autumn, as part of the wider schools funding announcement for 2006–08.

For those schools with the highest numbers of pupils who have fallen behind, I will—in addition to the Dedicated Schools Grant funding outlined above—invest a further £60 million of DfES grant funding to be shared across the primary and secondary sectors in each of 2006–07 and 2007–08. This will allow schools facing the most acute challenges to ensure, through the support and guidance of the Primary and Secondary National Strategies, that they have the right workforce, trained and qualified to provide more effective one-to-one or small group tuition for all their lowest attaining pupils.

Although my announcement today is focused in particular on Key Stage 3 children, I expect all schools—primary and secondary—to increasingly personalise teaching and learning. I will also press forward with reforms to support groups who need the most support: children who have special educational needs; looked after children; and children from some black and minority ethnic backgrounds whose educational attainment is below national averages.

While one-to-one and small group tuition are crucial elements in our vision for truly personalised education, they must be a supplement to—not a substitute for—high quality whole class teaching and learning. We must ensure that whole class teaching consistently meets the needs of all children within the class. This is the absolute core of providing every child and young person with a tailored education. The guidance and training opportunities I have outlined above will support teachers in all schools to provide excellent, interactive lessons which will capture the imagination of every child in the class.

Further details of the Government's plans for personalised learning will be contained in the White Paper which I intend to publish later this month.

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