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Additional £1.4m for Norwich scheme to help disadvantaged children

PUBLISHED: 16:21 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:21 17 July 2020

Norwich Opportunity Area runs projects with schools to help boost the life dahnces of disadvantaged children. Picture: Getty Images

Norwich Opportunity Area runs projects with schools to help boost the life dahnces of disadvantaged children. Picture: Getty Images

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A scheme to help disadvantaged Norwich youngsters has been awarded £1.4m for work that will include making up lost learning time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Michelle Donelan, Minister for the Opportunity Areas. Picture: David Woolfall/Crown CopyrightMichelle Donelan, Minister for the Opportunity Areas. Picture: David Woolfall/Crown Copyright

Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) is to receive the funding to continue for a fourth year, together with a share of £1m specifically to support the new ‘twinning’ work between schools and organisations.

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Michelle Donelan, minister for the Opportunity Areas, said the expanded programme will also help address the impact of coronavirus.

She said: “Around the country, the response to the pandemic has been heroic, and each of the 12 Opportunity Areas has coordinated its approach to help those who need it most respond to immediate challenges.”

Stuart Allen, headteacher at Mile Cross Primary School, one of the schools that has been involved with Norwich Opportunity Area. Picture: New Anglia LEPStuart Allen, headteacher at Mile Cross Primary School, one of the schools that has been involved with Norwich Opportunity Area. Picture: New Anglia LEP

The Department for Education has invested £90m over four years in 12 opportunity areas across England, with £18m for an additional fourth year running August 2021.

Last year questions have been raised by county councillors about the effectiveness of the scheme, of which Norfolk County Council is a partner.

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The minister said the investment was already having an impact on “reading levels, attendance, teacher training, recruitment and other key areas that will help improve social mobility”.

“In Norwich, this has included primary and secondary headteachers working collectively across the city to improve outcomes and opportunities for the most disadvantaged students,” she said.

“Take one example: the Norwich Inclusion Charter, signed by 40 Norwich schools, has resulted in strong collaboration through a network of Inclusion Champions to help keep children in school and get the most out of their education.

Students from across the Norwich Opportunity Area present their ideas for projects that will improve social mobility to judges. Picture: New Anglia LEPStudents from across the Norwich Opportunity Area present their ideas for projects that will improve social mobility to judges. Picture: New Anglia LEP

“This has led to real benefits for pupils including improved attendance and fewer behavioural problems.”

On-going programmes the Norwich project aims to achieve is improving Early Years speech, language, listening and communication in schools.

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Measures will also target improvements for primary schools where results are weakest, as well as schemes to improve inclusion and support vulnerable learners.

Tim Coulson, chairman of the NOA board, said: “I am delighted that the government has recognised the value of the opportunity areas programme and is funding an extension into a fourth year.

“We know that the work to transform life chances is a long journey and we welcome a fourth year of the programme, and share a determination to use it to accelerate progress towards a more equitable society.”


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