Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the education secretary Justine Greening announced the creation of a new £12 million network of English Hubs to boost reception children’s literacy and numeracy and tackle the attainment gap.
The hubs will initially be in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ region (Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle) but will eventually be established throughout the country.
The move forms part of the next phase of the Government’s £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund.
It is thought that the English Hubs will be similar to the Maths Hubs, created by the coalition Government in 2014, which Ms Greening also announced are being expanded into more areas where the ‘Government wants to make the biggest difference’ with a £6 million investment.
There are currently 35 Maths Hubs, which are led by an outstanding school or college and bring together mathematics education professionals to develop and spread excellent practice.
Speaking at the conference, Ms Greening said, ‘The fact is the historic attainment gap in our schools between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better-off peers is now finally closing.
‘But there’s a whole lot more we can – and must do – to help make sure that this really is a country that works for everyone, and that the benefits of our education reforms are spread to all areas, so that how far someone can go in life isn’t determined by their family background or where in the country they are born.
‘But we know that for some children, their development has already fallen behind on literacy and numeracy by the time they even start school.
‘So, I am announcing that the next phase of our £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund will include a new focus on boosting literacy and numeracy during a child’s Reception year.’
Ms Greening also revealed that the Government will spend a further £30 million on tailored support so schools that struggle the most with recruitment and retention can get more ‘great teachers’.