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Award-winning Saturday school shares secrets of success

TOP FORM: Cambridge graduate Akilah Jeffers attended the West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre’s supplementary school

OFFICIALS OF an award-winning Saturday School whose students have gone on to top tier universities said tightening up paperwork and auditing procedures is the secret to survival.

West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre, in the West Midlands, has been awarded three quality standards over the past 18 months recognised by ContinYou, the UK’s leading education charity.

The supplementary school was struggling to stay afloat after cuts to public spending made getting grants and contracts even more competitive.

But it successfully applied for funding from the BBC’s Children In Need initiative, which will keep its supplementary school for children from underprivileged backgrounds open from 2010 to August 2013.

Chief executive Shane Ward said: “It is so important get quality standards. It helps you get good systems in place, helps you to improve and evaluate what you’ve done.

“Most importantly, it gets your foot through the door. If you want big tenders, particular with the public sector, they ask how you manage quality. If you don’t have an answer, your chances are significantly reduced.”

The survival of supplementary schools is vital, explained Ward.

Research on past students has revealed that children who attended the school for two years went on to achieve better GSCE results and were more likely to go on to further or higher education.

A long list of its former pupils have gone on to top universities; among them student Akilah Jeffers who recently graduated from Cambridge.

Ward added: “Our philosophy is that mainstream schools give you the basics but you have to add to it whether that’s at home, through tuition or supplementary schools.

“We instil confidence in our pupils that they can achieve; we get their parents or carers involved and they benefit from the smaller class sizes.”

The school, based at Lyng Primary School, has been running for the past 20 years and works with children aged between 5 and 16, providing lessons in maths and English in line with the National Curriculum.

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