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Liberal Democrats announce £100m for summer schools

image captionMr Laws said he wanted to avoid the "them-and-us" mentality

Summer schools for disadvantaged young people are to benefit from £100m in extra funding from the government, it has been announced.

Education Minister David Laws said the summer school funding would pay to help pupils cope with the transition between primary and secondary schools.

The money will pay for the programme until 2014.

He also confirmed an increase in the pupil premium for children from poorer backgrounds from £619 to £900.

The summer school project, which started last year with an initial fund of £50m, was a success, according to the Lib Dems.

Mr Laws said: "All too often pupils who have made big progress through the school year fall behind over the long summer holiday, particularly if they are changing schools.

"Over 2,000 secondary schools took part in that programme this summer and the feedback we received was fantastic."

'Plug the gap'

Mr Laws announced the funding as part of his first keynote speech of the Liberal Democrat conference.

It is the first conference speech he has made since making a frontbench comeback in the reshuffle, two years after being forced out over the misuse of taxpayer-funded expenses.

He also used the speech to hail the success of the pupil premium scheme which sees schools receiving extra funding for every child registered as eligible for free school meals or children in care.

image captionNick Clegg has apologised for breaking a pre-election pledge to oppose a tuition fee rise

Next year's rise will see £1.8bn allocated to the premium, with the government on track to allocate £2.5bn a year in 2014-15, or about £1,200 per pupil.

He called for parents, teachers and governors to monitor the way schools were using the money as the government could not "micro-manage 25,000 schools".

Ofsted has said there was real concern that funds were being used to "plug the gap" in school budgets as more than half of schools it recently surveyed said it was making "little or no difference".

Mr Laws also said teachers often felt "got at" by politicians, but that all members of the profession wanted the best for their pupils.

He said: "Let us try to avoid the them-and-us mentality that causes so much mistrust.

"I want the best for all children; teachers want the best for all children. We are on the same side and we are on the same side in our commitment to all children."

The extra funding meets a pledge included in the general election manifesto, which Mr Laws said was an indication the party was able to deliver its policies in government.

It comes after Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg issued a video apology earlier this week for breaking a pre-election pledge to oppose any rise in university tuition fees.

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