A NATIONAL accolade – and a quarter of a million pounds – has been given to a school for helping disadvantaged youngsters do well.
Ark Charter Academy in Southsea has won £250,000 for being the best secondary in the country at providing a high quality education for students from low-income backgrounds.
Its principal Dame Sharon Hollows said: ‘I really appreciate this prize because it’s in recognition of the hard work that the staff have done and the children have achieved.’
Dame Sharon said: ‘It supports our parents who care so much about the children. This will enable us to help them even more.’
The announcement was made at the Department for Education’s Pupil Premium Awards.
The pupil premium is a payment made to schools which is to be specifically used for helping disadvantaged pupils progress.
In 2014 82 per cent of the academy’s pupils achieved five or more A* to C GCSEs including English and mathematics – the so-called ‘gold standard’ – against a national average of 36.5 per cent.
Minister of State for Schools David Laws MP said: ‘I’d like to congratulate everybody at Ark Charter Academy.
‘I know how much the school has achieved in just a few years and I hope it can be a trailblazer that can show other schools around the country how to do it.’
The school has been running a longer day to make sure there is additional time to help pupil premium students with core academic subjects, including study groups on maths and literacy for struggling pupils.
Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock has praised the school for its success.
‘I think it is an amazing achievement and we shouldn’t be surprised because of the commitment of everybody at the school and their ethos,’ he said.
‘It goes to show if there is commitment there from staff, parents and children a failing school can turn around to succeed.’
The academy also uses its funding to provide pupils with a wider experience of life, including sailing and boxing activities, subsidised trips to universities and theatrical performances.
Schools across England that are doing the most to help disadvantaged pupils improve were eligible to win a share of £4m as part of the 2015 Pupil Premium Awards.