Nick Smith MP has welcomed the rollout of a Labour Welsh Government scheme to get pupils in Blaenau Gwent to achieve their potential.

The Blaenau Gwent MP joined Education Minister Huw Lewis, school leaders and civic figures to welcome Schools Challenge Cymru at Tredegar Comprehensive School.

Tredegar, Ebbw Fawr Learning Community and Abertillery Comprehensive are three of the 40 Welsh schools signed up to the £20m scheme, which aims to improve teaching and learning by teaming up with high-performing schools to share experience.

Each school gets its own special adviser, who has helped to draw up an improvement plan.  These advisers will then also monitor the progress of the schools and put them in touch with top schools elsewhere as and when needed.

It is entering its first year in Wales, having been used in areas such as London and Manchester previously to tremendous effect.

It has proved so successful in London, that schools have gone from having a 16% 5 A-C rate at GCSE level in 1997 to having a higher proportion of good and outstanding schools than anywhere else in England.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Smith said it marked another solid foundation on which to build future success for school pupils in Blaenau Gwent.

He said: “The one thing we can never forget is the duty of care we all have for our children in the borough. Parents and pupils alike are fiercely proud and loyal towards our schools, and have trusted those schools to help their children reach their goals.

“The way everyone today embraced Schools Challenge Cymru gives me confidence that we as a borough are now challenging ourselves to truly reward that trust and loyalty with the results our pupils deserve.

“Our teachers have worked hard for this borough, but I believe this scheme will give those teachers the chances, expertise and resources to do even better.

“I don’t just want Blaenau Gwent schools to help children achieve their potential, but show them they could exceed their potential in ways they didn’t even imagine.

“Blaenau Gwent Council and the respective schools here have shown great foresight in embracing this scheme, and we must all now do our bit to make sure it bears fruit for years to come.”

Director of Ebbw Fawr Learning Community, Grahame Harkness, said after improving the 5 A*-C performance at the school to 53% from 39% to years ago, anything that gave the school further momentum was to be welcomed.

“Just because a community is less well off than others does not mean that children will not be as successful as elsewhere”, he said.

“This initiative recognises that our students are already achieving and that with the additional support, we can accelerate their progress.”

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