Boost for struggling Sheffield pupils

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MORE than 700 Sheffield 11 and 12-year-olds who have fallen behind in English and maths are to be given extra help at school as part of a £54 million Government scheme.

City secondary schools will share £372,500 to provide individual teaching or intensive support in small groups for 745 youngsters - £500 per pupil.

The ‘catch up premium’ is designed to stop children who failed to make the grade when leaving primary school from falling even further behind.

The aim is to have them up to speed by the time they start their GCSE studies at the age of 14.

A total of 17 city schools will receive a share of the funding, with Stocksbridge High getting £55,000, Handsworth Grange £33,000 and Ecclesfield £30,500.

In the scheme Rotherham schools will share £281,500, Barnsley schools £226,000 and Doncaster schools £96,000.

Plans for the premium were first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Lib Dems conference last autumn.

The Sheffield Hallam MP said the pupils receiving help would be better motivated, preventing disruptive behaviour that impeded the learning of others.

“The consequences for a pupil being left behind in the basics when they start secondary school can last for the rest of their education,” he said.

“I don’t want to see any pupil in Sheffield left behind. The money being handed out to schools in Sheffield will help pupils catch up with their peers as quickly as possible. Every child in the city should have the chance to succeed and get off on the right foot when they start their new school.”

Critics of the programme say it can be too late to target support at struggling pupils when they have already started secondary school, and insist it’s at primaries where the funding should be directed.

Figures show that only five per cent of youngsters who did not reach expected standards in maths and English at age 11 succeed in passing five good GCSEs at secondary school.

It will be up to individual schools to decide how to spend the cash, but examples are expected to include small group sessions held at lunchtimes or after classes, or intensive programmes during holidays.

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