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Press Release - 19 January 2005

New project to help improve education standards in Bath area

Education standards in secondary schools in the Bath area are set to receive a boost thanks to a new research partnership between the University of Bath and the Bath & North East Somerset Local Education Authority (LEA).

The partnership, the first of its kind in the country, will bring together the expertise of the University’s highly-rated education department with the experience of educationalists in the Bath C North East Somerset LEA.

The aim is to identify ways of improving the standards of boys’ English, and in particular writing, in schools throughout the area, and to develop ways of helping students, teachers and schools achieve better results in the classroom.

Overall the Bath & North East Somerset LEA performs above the national average with a significant number of schools in the top 25 per cent in the whole country. However, there are a similar number of under performing schools in the bottom 25 per cent, with fewer schools than might be expected performing around the national average.

As part of the project, Emma Metcalfe, a specially appointed research associate will examine student performance data across the region to identify anomalies between achievements in Bath & North East Somerset and similar areas elsewhere in the country.

She will then work with the partner organisations to find the possible influences on student performance and work with the teachers to develop action plans for improvement.

Emma will also compare the practice within the Bath & North East Somerset LEA with other LEAs and identify good practice to develop intervention strategies with specific cohorts of students at risk of underachievement.

Richard Brock, Head of School Improvement at the Bath & North East Somerset LEA, said: “Most of our pupils and their schools perform well but there is always room for further improvement. We want every young person to succeed and have the best life chances we can offer them.

“Some boys do not gain the same level of success in English as girls and indeed do not do as well as boys in other parts of the country. We want to know why and, more importantly, what more we can do to raise the standard of boys’ English, so that they, and the girls, are right at the top.

“This is a really exciting project that will help and support teachers and pupils. The Local Authority is pleased and proud to be working so closely with the University of Bath on this project”.

The partnership is part of a national scheme, called Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, which encourage links between universities and the public and private sectors. It is funded by the Department for Trade and Industry, the Learning and Skills Council and the Bath & North East Somerset LEA.

“KTP offers a real opportunity for people involved in educational research to work with those involved in applying the findings of that research in classrooms,” said Dr Felicity Wikeley, senior lecturer in the University’s Department of Education.

“By providing the funding for a full-time post over three years the partnership will create time and support for teachers wanting to help all their pupils achieve their potential.

“The KTP scheme has only very recently been opened to the public sector, so we are delighted to be among the first to establish a partnership where University research can have a direct benefit for schools in the local area.”

Notes

The Bath & North East Somerset LEA provides education services to a population of 170,000 through 13 secondary schools, 5 special schools and 68 primary schools. In total, 25,000 pupils receive education through key stage 1, 2, 3 and 4 and post 16 in the Bath & North East Somerset area.