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£10million boost to help city’s children shine

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Published on 22 March 2024

SHINE – working in partnership with the University of Sunderland – is giving Sunderland secondary schools a cash injection of £10 million
SHINE – working in partnership with the University of Sunderland – is giving Sunderland secondary schools a cash injection of £10 million

An education charity – working in partnership with the University of Sunderland – is giving Sunderland secondary schools a cash injection of £10million to help the city’s children achieve their full potential.

The funding comes from SHINE, which works alongside philanthropists, teachers and schools to break barriers holding back children in the North of England.

The new fund will be locally led, and respond to what schools, leaders and the community in Sunderland know about the barriers and needs, and about the solutions and partnerships already working here. 

In the first stage of the fund, SHINE has partnered with the University of Sunderland to commission a city-wide scoping exercise over the next few months. 

This will ask stakeholders across the city about their understanding of the challenges faced by children in the city’s secondary schools, and about what they see the solutions to be. Children too will be asked what barriers they face in their learning.

Data shows that while children in Sunderland frequently do well at primary school, compared to their peers elsewhere in the country, they have often fallen behind by the time they reach GCSE age.

Leading the research for the project is Dr Sarah Martin-Denham, Associate Professor of Care and Education at the University of Sunderland.

She said: “There is so much excitement in the city about this generous £10m donation. This opportunity for funding has the potential to impact children’s lives significantly and positively. 

“I am delighted to be leading this research, speaking to children, young people, caregivers, and headteachers to listen to their thoughts on how we can improve GCSE results. I look forward to seeing the positive difference this fund will make."

The life-changing 10-year fund for secondary schools in Sunderland is the charity’s largest-ever investment in one place.

Helen Rafferty, interim CEO of SHINE, said: “With the support of our local partners, we want to remove the barriers to success that students across Sunderland face. 

“Every child in the North of England has the right to reach their full potential and our schools are bursting with young people with the skills, intelligence, creativity, and passion to succeed. 

“However, many years of post-industrial decline, lack of access to the best opportunities, and limited support for the most vulnerable have left generations of students in Sunderland without the pathways to the success they so richly deserve, and without the aspiration or expectation that they can live engaging, fulfilling lives. 

“We will work with the fantastic teachers and initiatives already tackling these challenges, we will seek to understand the foundational issues that limit students from being able to reach their full potential, and we will provide long-term funding to develop and share the solutions.

“Our aim is to unlock the potential of every student in Sunderland and open up a future of opportunity and success for the young people of this fantastic city.”

SHINE is particularly keen to hear from headteachers and school leaders who will be eligible to apply for funding later this year.

Dr Rafferty said: “This work is critical in helping us to decide how this substantial funding will be directed over the next 10 years.

“We know that five good GCSEs unlock future potential and open up real choices in students’ lives. We want every child in Sunderland to thrive. And we know that schools and teachers hold the key to this success. 

“This is why we will be targeting our £10million of additional funding over the next 10 years at projects that secondary schools develop to support children in Sunderland to reach their full potential.”