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Written Statement - Schools Challenge Cymru

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

Today will see the launch of Schools Challenge Cymru.  A £20 million package of support to boost the performance of up to 40 secondary schools that are both in challenging circumstances and challenged in terms of delivery.

This package includes the additional funding of £12.1m announced by the Minister for Finance last month as part of the Welsh Government’s response to the UK Government’s Autumn Statement.  Alongside this funding, the programme will inject proven expertise into some of Wales’ poorest performing schools, providing targeted support to help them to make improvements in their pupils’ levels of attainment.

Challenge schools, identified as underperforming as measured by banding and a range of deprivation related factors, will receive a package of support, individually tailored to meet the school’s needs depending on their circumstances. All those taking part in this programme, including school leaders, teachers, governors and consortia, will be challenged to improve.

The core elements of Schools Challenge Cymru will be 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 model will build on approaches proven to work in the successful London and Manchester challenges adapted to the Welsh context and will bring in expertise from all over the UK.

Schools Challenge Cymru will also make full use of the support of some of Wales’ finest and highest performing schools to share expertise and leadership supporting teachers in Challenge Cymru schools to achieve the improvements needed.

We do not underestimate the scale of the challenge. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all children in Wales, regardless of their economic background, will receive the very best education possible to enable them to fulfil their potential.