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Beverley Hughes announces Greater Manchester Challenge Chief Adviser

09 Oct 2007

The Government today announced Professor Mel Ainscow as Chief Adviser of the new Greater Manchester Challenge, a £50 million campaign over three years to raise standards in schools across some of the most deprived areas of the region.

Professor of Education and co-director of the Centre for Equity in Education at Manchester University, Mel Ainscow has an international reputation for his work on school improvement.

He has been appointed to drive the Government's three year programme to improve standards for children in all schools across Greater Manchester.

The programme will launch in April 2008 and will build on the experience of London Challenge, which has had a major impact on raising standards in schools in the most deprived parts of the capital.

Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families and Minister for the North West, Beverley Hughes, who is heading up the Greater Manchester Challenge, said:

"I am delighted to welcome Professor Ainscow as the new Chief Adviser for Greater Manchester.  Mel is renowned for his work on raising the achievement and attainment of all children and young people but particularly those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, which is a key focus of this programme.  I am confident that he will be a major force in helping us to break the cycle between deprivation and low achievement in the region.

"The Greater Manchester Challenge will build on our experience in London, where highly targeted investment in disadvantaged areas has brought dramatic results. I am confident that we can repeat this success in Greater Manchester and support the work already being done by our educational partners locally."

Professor Ainscow, who takes up his new position this month, said:

"I am delighted to be part of this important opportunity to improve the quality of education for all children and young people across Greater Manchester. There are lots of good things going on in schools in Greater Manchester. The task now is to spread the best practice to all schools.

"For me personally this is the culmination of many years in education, as a teacher, headteacher and university academic. I was brought up and went to school locally and I feel very committed to ensuring that the Greater Manchester Challenge makes a big difference."

The Greater Manchester Challenge will be delivered in partnership with education stakeholders in the region including local authorities and schools. Its target will be to turn around major school problems faced by the region to achieve:

*A sharp drop in under-performing schools 
*More outstanding schools
*Better results for disadvantaged children.

Plans will be developed over the coming months but the main elements are likely to include:

*Intensive support for schools where there is the biggest opportunity to break the link between deprivation and educational underachievement.  This will mean support for around 50 primary and 50 secondary schools in challenging circumstances.  Schools may receive a package of support including; expert advisers, student coaching and mentoring, help for students with English as a second language.

* A Greater Manchester leadership strategy led by school leaders for school leaders.  Head teachers of successful schools will work with weaker schools to improve their leadership teams.

*A tailored package of support to cut underachievement. This is likely to include: professional development for teachers, pupil coaching and help for groups of children at risk of underperforming.

*An analysis of the key issues across Greater Manchester.  Schools will also be put in 'families' to benchmark themselves against similar schools and share best practice.

* Local solutions to local problems.  In London, this has included help with children moving school and a system for helping parents choose a secondary school.

Notes for editors

  • The Greater Manchester Challenge will receive around a £50 million investment package from April 2008 to 2011. 
  • The ten Greater Manchester local authorities are Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.
  •  Mel Ainscow is Professor of Education and co-director of the Centre for Equity in Education at the University of Manchester, and Marden Visiting Professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education.  He was previously a head teacher, local education authority inspector and lecturer at the University of Cambridge, where he was one of the instigators of the highly influential school improvement initiative: Improving the Quality of Education for All.  His appointment as Chief Adviser is for three years.
  •  It was announced earlier this year that London Challenge will be extended to run for a further three years in London from 2008.  Funding for the London Challenge programme, which is led by Schools Minister Andrew Adonis, will be around £80 million over three years.
  • Independent education watchdog Ofsted reported in December that London schools have improved 'dramatically' and the investment in London Challenge, now £40 million annually, has helped schools and local authorities. The lessons learned from London Challenge could influence school improvement in England, the report said.
  • The capital recorded its best ever GCSE results in 2006 showing London state school pupils leading the rest of the country for the third year running.
  • The Black Country also has its own City Challenge programme and will receive around a £28 million investment package during the same timeframe. The Black Country Challenge is led by Schools Minister Jim Knight. Its Chief Adviser is Sir Geoff Hampton.
  • Find  more information on the City Challenge at

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