Programme helps to close achievement gap for disadvantaged pupils

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Children at schools supported by the education charity Achievement for All are closing the gap with their peers in reading, writing and maths, according to an independent review.


The Achievement for All programme has been successful in helping disadvantaged children do well at school

The review carried out by PwC, examined 25 schools supported by the Achievement for All Achieving Schools programme, between 2011 and 2015. The results indicated that pupils with special educational needs (SEN), those eligible for Pupil Premium funding, and low attainers, consistently made progress at a higher rate than expected for their year groups.

One school reported that it had moved out of the bottom cohort in the country for maths into the top 25 per cent.

The schools also scored themselves out of 10 across different factors relating to educational changes, including pupil behaviour, attitude and participation in extra-curricular activity. Since working with Achievement for All, all schools rated their school’s progress as 8 or higher.

Achievement for All aims to raise the aspirations, access and achievement of vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

The charity’s Achieving Schools programme, a two year whole-school improvement framework, is delivered directly into schools by specialist coaches and aims to create better life chances for children and young people.

The review shows that the programme has directly benefitted nearly 100,000 children.

Achieving Early, the charities early years programme designed for nurseries and children’s centres, has its foundations in the schools programme and has been developed to meet the specific needs of the early years sector.

The programme which has been running for two years, has also been shown to raise standards and improve outcomes for children vulnerable to underachievement including those identified with special educational needs and those from low-income families.

Professor Sonia Blandford, founder and CEO of Achievement for All, said, ‘The UK has one of the widest attainment gaps in education anywhere in the developed world with one-in-five children currently underachieving at school.

‘Educational inequality starts early, widens throughout school and the effects can last a lifetime in terms of job prospects, health and overall contribution to society. The majority of those worst affected come from a disadvantaged background or have a special educational need or disability.

‘This year’s report demonstrates the impact of Achieving Schools as a solution to this problem, helping to achieve longer-term, higher-level outcomes for pupils, their families and wider society. Ultimately, the Achieving All programme could help every underperforming child to achieve.’

However, it is not just the academic development which has been successful. This year’s research also investigated the wider impact of Achieving Schools on emotional intelligence and social skills.

Dr David Armstrong, PwC partner and one of the authors of the independent report, said the review provided evidence that the activities of the Achieving Schools programme were effective. ‘If we focus on wider outcomes, such as improving self-esteem and confidence, and interventions that seek to address poor behaviour, these can contribute to achieving emotional intelligence in children and young people.’

The Achieving Schools programme is focused on developing social skills by enabling children and young people to become more involved and engaged with wider activities in the school, such as after-school clubs and community involvement activities, and by engaging with parents in order to improve behaviour, attendance and engagement.


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