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Agenda item

Improving the Outcomes of Disadvantaged Pupils

This report provides the Children, Education and Communities Policy and Scrutiny Committee with an update on improving progress and attainment outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in York.


Members considered a report that updated them on improving progress and attainment outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in York.


The Head of Primary School Effectiveness and Achievement gave an update and confirmed that the outcomes for disadvantaged pupils and young people in York were slowly improving but were still significantly below those of their peers. It was noted that the gap began in the early years and was characterised by poor outcomes in language and communication, and they highlighted York’s promise to disadvantaged pupils and young people to improve the provision.


Members noted that the progress and attainment of disadvantaged pupils in York varied by school and Officers highlighted the end of year statistics across all key stages and confirmed the actions to be taken to improve outcomes which included:

    Developing a clear strategy to early years provision in the area through learning gained from the Early Talk for York project.

    Upskilling the workforce to identify and respond to speech, communication and language needs.

    Identifying and disseminating evidence based approaches around communication of key messages to the community which supported improvements in the home learning environment.


The Officer explained that a Social Mobility Steering Group had been established to tackle underachievement and improve life chances for disadvantaged children and young people. Members noted that two new initiatives, Write Time and Reading for Real, had been implemented in over 32 schools, helping over 2000 pupils to improve reading and writing.


The Social Mobility Project Manager was in attendance to discuss the Early Talk for York project which aimed to improve the current attainment in communication and language strands of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. Members noted that based on strong evidence the communication and language outcomes at age five were one of the most important predictors of future life chances. The project was a collaboration between three primary schools, to the west of the city and partners across City of York Council, early years settings and early years health practitioners and aimed to build capacity in the local area to support children and their families 0-5.


Members noted the key strands of work, which included, the deployment of a Speech and Language Therapist to work specifically in the project area, specialist training for early years practitioners, focused work from the family learning team and an online and physical marketing campaign to raise awareness of early childhood development.


Members also noted the progress made to date and welcomed further improvements in this area and in answer to their questions, it was confirmed that:

·        The Speech and Language Therapist would lead on the level 4 ELKLAN training planned to start in the spring term and she had already made visits to all settings involved in the project.

·        Disadvantaged pupils progress in schools was targeted and monitored with interventions put in place where needed.

·        Officers were working with settings and schools within the highest deprivation areas, to share good practice and specifically target closing the word gap to support progress in education outcomes.

·        The project would be evaluated by Huntington Research School and local universities to enable Officers to develop the project and be more focussed in their offer.

·        Funding was a challenge but the remuneration offered by various stakeholders, including School Forum and the Shine Trust, would allow the project to expand.  

·        Preschool settings and independent childminders had been contacted and were involved in the project.


Officers confirmed the project was supported by the School Forum and head teachers and various other professionals including midwives and community learning champions, who all saw the value of the project and would help raise awareness to parents and families to ensure the support started early.


The Chair thanked Officers for their report and it was noted that Ward Councillors could also support the project and grow awareness and connections within their wards.




(i)           That the work being done by the York Schools and Academies Board be supported and the progress of the social mobility strategic plan be noted.


(ii)         That an update be received at a future meeting.


Reason: For Members to scrutinise the progress of the social mobility strategic plan.



Supporting documents:


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