EDUCATION AND WELSH LANGUAGE MINISTER Jeremy Miles has announced almost £25m of investment in the next financial year to tackle the impact of poverty on young people’s attainment.

The funding will be used to ensure more schools are able to operate and develop as Community Focused Schools, which reach out to engage families and work with the wider community to support all pupils and particularly those disadvantaged by poverty.

It is part of a package of measures which will provide more support for schools to ensure all children have the best start in life regardless of their background.

£4.9m of investment will be used to expand the number of Family Engagement Officers employed by schools to tackle inequality and absence issues, helping provide more support to children and families who need it most. It will also be used to fund a trial of Community Managers based in schools to link up with other agencies to support pupils and the wider community as well as funding research on educational attainment. Investing in Community Focused Schools is a Programme for Government Commitment.

£20m will be invested in delivering Community Focussed Schools, to fund practical ways of improving school facilities in order to enable greater community use.  This includes providing equipment storage for community groups running extra-curricular activities, improving external lighting in sports areas, and introducing security measures to segregate school and community use areas. This funding will be allocated to local authorities across Wales on a formula basis based on pupil and school numbers.

Jeremy Miles said: “Tackling the impact of poverty on attainment is essential if we are to achieve high standards and aspirations for all.  We know that the life chances of children and young people are hugely influenced by their home and community and that teachers need more support in addressing the issues some children and young people face. By investing in Community Focused schools, we are ensuring that learners have the support they need to reach their full potential.

“Community Focused schools develop partnerships with a range of organisations, and make services accessible locally to families and the wider community. They use their facilities and resources to benefit the communities they serve, improve the lives of the children, strengthen families and build stronger communities.

“Above all else, our national mission is to tackle the impact of poverty on educational attainment and to set high standards for all. I want all young people to have high aspirations for their education and future careers and that means using every lever we have to support them.”