The local MP for Hastings and Rye, Sally-Ann Hart, has welcomed the announcement that Hastings’ Opportunity Area status will be extended for a further year. This news brings with it a further £1,139,900 of funding to support local schools and students.
On hearing the announcement, Sally-Ann said, “I am delighted at this news of the Opportunity Area status being extended for a further year. This means Hastings will have benefited from five years of this funding which has seen tangible improvements being made, with students getting better numeracy results in our Academies, and also targeted Alternative Provision working in some schools as well.”
Since 2016, the programme has invested £90 million on improving school standards, attendance, teaching quality and recruitment, careers training and advice, literacy and maths skills, alongside tackling barriers to learning that exist beyond the school gates. An additional £18 million will now be invested in 12 Opportunity Areas across the country, with each area being ‘twinned’ with previous areas that have faced similar challenges so they can benefit from their expertise and collaborate more closely on the issues facing children and young people. Hastings will be twinned with Portsmouth to help support them.
The programme aims to help children and young people improve in key subjects such as maths and English, support pupils who are at risk of falling out of education or give older students the confidence and skills to make the leap from school into work.
In Hastings there have been improvements to primary Maths outcomes, particularly among disadvantaged pupils, with 78% of pupils overall achieving the expected standard in maths in 2019. Training in maths mastery is also helping over 7,200 pupils across 20 schools, and primary schools are now on track to exceed the national average in maths attainment at Key Stage 2.
In addition to this, in Hastings more than 2,500 young people have benefited from extracurricular opportunities such as drama, art, cricket, and football as part of the Broadening Horizons programme, to help them develop essential life skills like leadership, resilience, confidence, and problem solving. Another example of the Opportunity Area’s excellent work is that St Leonards Academy has been piloting the use of in-house Alternative Provision (AP), with an intensive 6-week course designed to re-engage pupils in education and reduce their risk of expulsion. Early data suggests that 28 of the 40 key stage 3 participants involved have been successfully re-engaged back into mainstream lessons.
“Over the last four years our schools and students have really benefited from the funding we have received as part of the Opportunity Area programme. We now have a further £1.1 million to invest in our young people and give them the best start in life. Everyone in our town should take pride in the progress we have made locally, especially now that we are being used as an example to other areas on how targeted support can really improve the educational outcomes for our students and give them the outcomes and opportunities they deserve,” said Sally-Ann.