A TOTAL of £1.6m in funding is set to be used to improve the educational outcomes of children in what has been described as a ‘huge opportunity’ for youngsters by Barnsley Council bosses.

At this week’s cabinet meeting, councillors discussed the plans which bosses hope will support local kids to achieve more than they currently are.

The project will aim to provide a universal ‘offer’ with existing and new providers that give opportunities for children to learn and develop inside and beyond the classroom.

Touted as an ‘early years to teens’ scheme, it’s also set to boost chances of gaining employment upon youngsters’ exits from education.

Targeted support will be provided to those who need additional help or for struggling groups of children who, as a result, may be at risk of being excluded or disengaged from learning.

A total of £600,000 has been secured from earmarked reserves which will go towards pilot programmes with schools - as well as engagement schemes.

A report said: “This approach aims to enhance education outcomes across all stages of the national curriculum in the borough.

“It will involve integrating Barnsley’s values derived from its history, heritage, and community bonds to motivate and inspire young people.

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“The goal is to elevate aspirations and academic achievement so students can reach their full potential.

“This will also include initiatives aimed at providing free and equal access to technology, eligibility for free school meals and discounted travel where feasible.”

A further £1m is also set to be approved to to fund an enhances maths and English GCSE programme for locals kids, as well as the ‘Every Child’s a Coder’ digital skills programme.

Department for Education figures show disadvantaged children in Barnsley secondary schools received an average score of 34 out of 90 points for ‘Attainment Eight’ in 2022/23, while their peers achieved a much higher score of 48.

Disadvantaged pupils include pupils known to be eligible for free school meals in any of the spring, autumn, or summer terms.

The grades measure pupils’ performance in eight GCSE-level qualifications.

It’s hoped the additional funding will help bridge the gap - whilst also improving educational for all children across the town.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “This is a huge opportunity for Barnsley and although its major launch has been delayed due to the forthcoming general election, afterwards we will be celebrating this as it’ll improve so many lives.

“It really does stretch from early years right through to teenagers’ exams, boosting their employment chances.”