Newbury businessman Bob Rae is offering to fund half the cost of a specialist support programme to 40 schools in West Berkshire in a bid to help the 1 in 5 children who are falling behind academically during a challenging period of ever decreasing budgets.

Bob Rae is the managing director of BDZ – a holdings company for a diverse range of organisations including the ever-popular Hogan Music in the town centre. Bob has partnered with local education charity Achievement for All (AfA), whose headquarters is also based in the town, to ‘give something back to the community’.

The charity offers schools and early years settings a two-year, coach-led programme which supports teachers in closing the attainment gap, strengthening leadership and creating capacity, enhancing relationships with parents and developing pupil behaviour, good attendance and well-being.

Bob Rae, managing director of BDZ, said:

“Schools are such a vital part of any community and as a local organisation, we want to do our best to support as many schools as we can in West Berkshire. Achievement for All does fantastic work in helping all pupils to achieve academically but also socially and emotionally. We are pleased to be able to help schools to pay for this unique programme and I am delighted to announce that BDZ is in a position to fund half the cost of the programme for 40 schools or early years settings in West Berkshire.

“I’ve heard first hand from teachers who say the programme has enabled them to close the achievement gap, with children making up to 50% more progress at school than their classmates, exceeding national expectations. I’m a huge advocate of the programme; it not only helps children to flourish and reach their full potential, but also supports staff. I’d like to encourage schools to make the most of this opportunity and get in touch with the team at Achievement for All to see how they can support you. There are over 80 schools in West Berkshire, so get in touch quickly to avoid disappointment.”

Chaddleworth St Andrew's and Shefford Church of England Federated Primary Schools have already registered with Achievement for All as part of this unique funding initiative. Bridget Goodrich is the headteacher, she says:

“I have worked with leadership teams in two primary schools which had joined the AfA programme and all the children involved in the programme made significant progress from their individual starting points. I am very much looking forward to seeing the positive impact the programme will have on our children here, along with the focus on professional development for all staff. The impact will tie in very well with the existing performance management objectives that we have set this year. The involvement of all stakeholders including in particular governors is another priority area that AfA will go some way to contributing to.

“Funding for our schools is about value for money and impact. The AfA programme promises to provide both and in a coherent manner which is clear to everyone who wants to see evidence. The development of middle and senior leaders and their increased accountability throughout the programme is a bonus.”

For each West Berkshire school which registers to the programme, £6,000 of funding is available, which will be focused on pupils who are from a disadvantaged background and/or are underachieving. The impact of the AfA programme is significant, with a typical AfA school achieving higher APS scores than that of a non-AfA school: Combined APS scores for reading, writing and maths for AfA schools is 4.7, verses non-AfA scores of 3.9.

Any schools or early years settings who are interested in registering with Achievement for All and maximising the generous amount of funding from BDZ Holdings, can contact Sue Bowen, Schools Partner at Achievement for All: sue.bowen@afaeducation.org / 07788 281 520.

In the last five years, Achievement for All has worked with 3,700 early years settings, schools and colleges in England and Wales. The programme will support any child who is underachieving, regardless of their background. Over 170,000 children and young people have directly benefited from the programmes.