Mayor announces £24m fund to boost excellence in London schools

11 February 2013

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today announced details of a new £24 million fund to help drive up standards in schools, as part of his mission to ensure young Londoners have access to the highest quality education.


The new London Schools Excellence Fund, which is part-funded by the Department for Education, will support activities to promote teaching excellence and raise achievement in English, literacy, numeracy and languages, as well as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.


Schools will be encouraged to bid for funds in collaboration with each other and also partners such as universities, independent schools, businesses and charities. The aim is to support more professional development for teachers across London and spread excellent teaching practice. There is evidence that schools working together and peer-to-peer activities can raise achievement, as good performing schools share their knowledge and experience. A further aim will be to meet the demands of the new national curriculum developed by Government, with its clear emphasis on teaching core subjects to all students and achieving high standards.


The DfE has agreed to contribute £20 million towards the establishment of the Fund. The Mayor is providing a further £4.25 million; this includes funding for his Leadership Clubs programme, which works with innovative organisations to improve young people's behaviour, academic attainment and raise their aspirations.

Today's announcement is the first recommendation to be implemented following the Mayor's Education Inquiry, a year-long independent investigation into the successes and challenges for London schools. The inquiry found that London schools already perform very well against the national average. It showed that since 2004, London schools have outperformed the national average for achievement of 5 good GCSEs (including English and Maths) at Key Stage 4 (ages 14 to 16). It reported that 62 per cent of students in the capital achieve 5 GCSEs A*- C, including English and maths, compared to the national average of 58 per cent.


The delivery plan, published this week, sets out a timetable for action. The goal is to promote excellent teaching in all London schools; prepare young Londoners for life and work in a global city; and ensure every London child has a good school place.


The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Many schools in London are doing tremendous work, and have high expectations of their students. They are not afraid of teaching the 'crunchy subjects' like maths, languages and sciences, or putting their children on a meaty diet of reading the classics or learning grammar. As a result, these children will grow up with the confidence and intellectual muscle to compete with the best talent from around the globe and get into the top jobs and universities.


'I now want this level of ambition in all of our state schools in the capital, and the one key thing we have learned from last year's Inquiry that supporting our teachers' professional development is vital to achieving this. The London Schools Excellence Fund is going to turbo charge good ideas, empty out pockets of underachievement, and, in the long term, ensure that outstanding teaching is the norm in all our state schools.'


Education Secretary Michael Gove said: 'Every school should constantly aim to reach the standards set by the best. Our reforms will stretch all our children, regardless of their background, to achieve a high quality, rigorous education which prepares them to compete internationally.


'There is some fantastic practice already evident in some London schools and our funding will allow those successes to be shared across the city, and galvanise the country as a whole.


'I look forward to working with the Mayor – who is incredibly ambitious for London’s children - to provide greater challenge and rigour and raise standards.'


One of the Fund's early pilot schemes will be residential programmes for primary and secondary teachers aimed at deepening their subject knowledge. For primary school teachers the focus will be on English and maths and there will be continuing support for all teachers participating in the scheme once they are back in the classroom.


The Greater London Authority will also develop the London Curriculum, another recommendation in the Mayor's Education Inquiry. This is designed to support schools to adapt to the new National Curriculum, whilst drawing on London's unique historical, cultural and scientific assets. It will bring new depth and life to subject teaching while helping young Londoners to better understand and engage with their city.


Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira Mirza said: 'Teachers have told us almost unanimously that they would welcome extra support in the classroom, to help them learn from each other and also meet the challenges of the new, intellectually ambitious National Curriculum. We have seen how cities around the world invest in the teaching profession, and London needs to keep pace. What is exciting about this fund is the clear emphasis on strengthening core subject knowledge as part of teacher training, which has sometimes been overlooked in favour of other aspects of teaching, such as 'learning to learn' or teaching 'life skills'. As the Secretary of State recently said, it is now recognised that we need to teach core knowledge to all students, to ensure they are fully literate and numerate and have a good chance of them succeeding in both school and life.'


The Mayor will publish the London Schools Excellence Fund Prospectus in March for schools wanting to bid for funds. To register an interest, please contact [email protected].


More plans will be announced in due course about taking forward other recommendations from the Education Inquiry, including: the 'Gold Club' scheme, which enables schools that are producing exceptional results to work with others in London; and further details will be announced about the Mayor's activities to help free school groups set up around the capital. 


Notes to editors

  1. The London Schools Excellence Fund is being overseen by an expert advisory group. Members of the group are: Munira Mirza (Chair) – Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture; Nick Gibb MP – Member of Parliament for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton; Dawn Taylor – Deputy Director, Curriculum Policy, Department for Education; Sir Dan Moynihan – Chief Executive, Harris Federation; Patricia Sowter CBE – Principal, Cuckoo Hall Academy; Shahed Ahmed – Headteacher, Elmhurst Primary School; Bernice McCabe – Headmistress, North London Collegiate School; Co-Director, The Prince's Teaching Institute; Frankie Sulke – Director of Children's Services, London Borough of Lewisham; Dr Tony Sewell – CEO, Generating Genius and Chair of the Mayor's Education Inquiry in 2011/2012; Professor George Berwick PhD CBE – Executive Principal, Ravens Wood School; Sean Harford (observer) – Regional Director, Ofsted.
  2. The London Schools Excellence Fund, Gold Club and London Curriculum are three out of twelve recommendations in the Mayor's Education Inquiry. More details about taking forward the other recommendations will be announced in due course.
  3. Work on the London Curriculum will put schools in the capital ahead in adapting to the requirements and approach of the new National Curriculum, a final version of which will be available in autumn 2013 for teaching in schools from September 2014.
  4. In January, the Mayor launched the Leadership Clubs scheme to help over 1,000 struggling school children reach their full potential. The £1,600,000 scheme will reach 40 schools in London. The Leadership Clubs aim to improve behaviour, self-discipline and educational achievement through a variety of approaches: from Saturday school schemes using creativity to boost confidence, to boot camp' style strict regimes, group and one to one support to address mental health, speech and communication needs. All the clubs focus on literacy and numeracy to help children excel in their lessons.
  5. The Mayor launched the Education Inquiry in November 2011, as an independent investigation into the successes and challenges for London schools. Chaired by the education commentator, former teacher and CEO of Generating Genius, Dr Tony Sewell, the inquiry consulted widely to build a comprehensive analysis of education in the capital, as well as making a number of recommendations to promote excellent teaching in all London schools; prepare young Londoners for life and work; and ensure every London child can be given a good school place.
  6. The London Schools Excellence Fund is part of a £40m education and youth programme of investment to boost attainment and opportunities for young Londoners. It also includes sponsoring three academies, with new ones under development; a £10 million youth programme co-funded by the European Social Fund, which targets young people aged 14-17, to help them into education, employment and training; and a London-wide mentoring programme. In addition the Mayor is leading the London Apprenticeships Campaign to drive up the number of apprenticeships offered by employers.For more information about what the Mayor is doing to raise aspiration and attainment and improve opportunities for young Londoners go to