Teach First

Assessing educational need in Wolverhampton and Walsall

Our study of Wolverhampton and Walsall identified the need to ensure young people know, and can access, the opportunities available to them.

As Teach First targets its work towards the areas where it can have the most impact, understanding what makes local contexts distinctive is key. Wolverhampton and Walsall stand out as linked closely with Birmingham, but not always benefitting from the jobs and opportunities the city offers. Seeking to understand more about young people’s lives, and the stories which lie behind the statistics, we interviewed young people and professionals in youth clubs, primary and secondary schools.

A number of features of life in the area stood out. These include:

  • The extensive influence of the home on young people’s engagement with education and the difference between the support offered for schools in middle-class and ethnic minority homes compared to white working-class families.
  • The limited opportunities the area had for young people and the challenges posed by accessing them, alongside the need to show students the “menu” of options available to them, through careers education and extracurricular activities.
  • The challenges comprehensive schools face grammar schools areas, and – currently – the limits to collaboration in the area.
  • The huge challenge of recruiting and retaining staff, particularly due to perceived pressures of workload and accountability, and the impact which high turnover of staff had on students’ results.
  • Young people’s wishes for improvement focused on making the area safer and more attractive; professionals discussed the need to improve the fabric, reputation and perceived importance of schools.

Our study poses questions for Teach First about how best to ensure young people are aware of the opportunities open to them, how to engage all families in school and whether Teach First can play a role in supporting schools to improve retention of great teachers.

As Teach First targets its work towards the areas where it can have the most impact, understanding what makes local contexts distinctive is key. Leeds compares favourably with the average on many national indicators, but this can mask poorer outcomes in areas such as Seacroft and Harehills, both of which are high on the Index of Multiple Deprivation. Seeking to understand more about young people’s lives, and the stories which lie behind the statistics, we interviewed young people and professionals in youth clubs, primary and secondary schools.

Read the full study of Wolverhampton

 

You can find our other published case studies below:

Read the full study of Leeds

Read the full study of Blackpool.