HC Deb 17 February 2000 vol 344 cc653-4W
22. Mr. Grogan

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement regarding his plans for summer schools aimed at encouraging young people to apply for higher education. [109152]

Jacqui Smith

The Government are committed to helping gifted young people from inner cities to make full use of their abilities. This summer we are spending £4 million to finance university summer schools which will raise the confidence and aspirations of these young people and give them a taste of university life.

This programme is part of the Excellence in Cities (EiC) initiative, which addresses: concerns over the standards of achievement which are lower in inner cities than in other areas of the country; truancy is higher and rates of exclusion higher; the fact that pupils in city areas often face multiple and reinforcing disadvantages that require multiple and reinforcing solutions; the need for continuity of support from pre-school to post-compulsory education for vulnerable pupils at all the points of institutional transition in their education to ensure that early intervention is continually consolidated and reinforced; and providing a safety net for those who experience disadvantage later. Excellence in Cities (EiC) was launched on 22 March 1999 by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State. Summer schools are an integral part of this continuing support through the education system. The Summer Schools programme is an extension of these initiatives and was announced on 23 November 1999.

In all there will be places for 5,000 gifted and talented 16–17 year olds from EiC areas this summer. The £4 million will cover all academic and accommodation costs and the costs of teaching and parental or teacher pastoral care, as well as the start-up costs of this scheme.

The summer schools are drawing on the pioneering work that has already been done by Institutions and we are building on their expertise and experience and the work of the Sutton Trust. The Sutton Trust is sponsoring six university summer schools this year at Oxford (2); Cambridge (2); Nottingham and Bristol. The schools will run this summer and will be open to able year 12 students throughout the UK who fulfil criteria recommended to universities by the Sutton Trust. The selection criteria will help ensure that many successful applicants are from inner-city secondary schools and colleges. The Minister for School Standards has agreed to offer a grant of £30,000 to contribute to the running of the schools.

Too many young people from the inner cities do not get the encouragement they need to make full use of their abilities. The Government are helping to put that right by giving them a chance to attend summer schools in our leading universities. This will raise their confidence and aspirations and give them a taste of university life.