28 July 2008

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis today announced a package of support to encourage disadvantaged 'gifted and talented' pupils to apply for some of the country's top universities.

Gifted and talented pupils in London, the Black Country and Greater Manchester will be entitled to £400 a year to spend on after-school clubs and other enrichment activities as part of the government's 'City Challenge' programmes. Over 1,500 Year 10 pupils eligible for Free Schools Meals are set to benefit each year under these new plans. The support will cover raising the attainment and aspirations of these pupils as well as providing them with university-led outreach activities, guidance and mentoring.

Teachfirst is also piloting a new mentoring programme as part of London Challenge. Around 60 Teachfirst Ambassadors are being trained to act as mentors and the programme will include a number of events to broaden students' awareness of Higher Education, the flagship being a residential course at Cambridge University, focusing on the 'life' skills needed for university, independent revision techniques and curriculum enrichment. The course is due to start next month.

And as part of the national Young Gifted & Talented programme a series of summer schools run by universities will provide hundreds of opportunities to challenge, inspire and motivate gifted and talented learners across the country. Sessions include masterclasses in Forensic Science, creative workshops and opportunities to design and engineer equipment for a music studio.

There are 37 Universities, including Cambridge and seven Russell Group institutions offering courses to pupils in their area predominantly through the programme's Excellence Hubs. This reflects a fourfold increase in the number of places available. This year there are 21,882 learner places available compared to an average of 5,478 places in the previous three years.

Welcoming the new measures Schools Minister Andrew Adonis said:

"The extra funding will help unlock the talents and potential of all our young people, ensuring that a university education is an option for everyone. For many disadvantaged pupils, poverty of aspiration can be the biggest obstacle and there may be financial pressures pushing them towards early employment. In addition, students who do choose to attend university may not set their sights high enough.

"The big increase in summer schools demonstrates our successful partnership with universities to raise the aspirations of gifted and talented students. Many of these activities are focusing on schools and pupils in disadvantaged areas. For some young people, especially those whose parents did not go to university, the idea of going to a top university can seem daunting, so this extra support for gifted and talented pupils is very important."

Editor's Notes

This press notice relates to 'England'

1. Excellence Hubs are regionally based partnerships led by Higher Education. Examples of the summer activities taking place include:

At the University of York students will engage in activities with peers from a variety of backgrounds, promoting an ethos that the learners should be competing with learners from more advantaged backgrounds. Sessions include masterclasses in Forensic Science, creative writing workshops and opportunities to design and engineer equipment for a music studio. At the University of Worcester they will be running a Sports Science Summer School giving learners whose parents have not been to University the chance to undertake a 6-day experience of life as a Sports Science Student.

Further examples and details of places available can be obtained from the Young Gifted & Talented programme website at: www.ygt.dcsf.gov.uk or from Kirsty Grant on 0118 902 1225.

2. Further details of the City Challenge programmes and Teachfirst can be found at:

Contact Details

Public Enquiries 0870 000 2288, info@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk

Press Notice 2008/0160