Have your say: Help us build a manifesto
Tell us what you think of our proposal to make the UK’s education system work better for the most in need. We’re listening.
Too many children in the UK aren’t getting the education they deserve. But as the country begins to rebuild after COVID-19, our nation has a unique opportunity to break the cycle of generational inequality.
That's why we’re building a manifesto. A to-do list. To clearly outline what needs to be done to make our education system work better for the children who need it most.
Certain topics come up from our network of teachers and school leaders time and time again. Based on these conversations – as well as research and our experience – we’ve come up with a draft plan which could make the biggest difference.
But now we need your help. We want your opinions and voices to help us get this right. Your feedback will help shape our recommendations that we'll take to policymakers as they turn their attention to rebuilding our economy and society.
Together our voices could create lasting change for all children – not just some. Teachers and school leaders, what do you think? Have your say.
1. School funding
Increase funding for schools serving disadvantaged communities
The improvements outlined in this manifesto will require significant funding increases for schools in disadvantaged areas. Although the government has made welcome funding commitments to reverse the last decade’s funding cuts by 2022-23, increases for disadvantaged schools have so far been proportionally smaller than in the most affluent areas.
School leaders need clarity on long-term funding to allow them to plan effectively and support their pupils to overcome the challenges ahead.
The levelling-up agenda must be underpinned by a minimum five-year funding increase for schools serving disadvantaged communities. The schools defined as disadvantaged should be those serving the poorest communities and, in some cases, those experiencing persistent pupil underperformance and that are geographically isolated.
2. Careers education
Prioritise careers education at both primary and secondary levels
Post-pandemic, we face an increasingly competitive jobs market. It’s essential that young people leave school with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
The eight Gatsby benchmarks set the standard on good careers guidance, but, on average, schools are still only achieving fewer than half of these. To give young people a better chance of achieving their potential, this number must be boosted.
- Train a careers leader in every secondary school at mid-senior level by 2023. Schools in disadvantaged areas should receive full funding for this.
- Publish a framework for effective careers learning in primary schools so that young people don’t rule themselves out of careers at an early age.
- Launch a fund to train primary teachers in disadvantaged areas to implement the framework.
20% of teachers in state secondary schools
think the pandemic has made pupils less hopeful about their career prospects
3. Work experience
Increase access to work experience through remote placements
The most effective careers guidance includes experience of the workplace. But, for those who live far from employers in sectors they are interested in, gaining work experience can be almost impossible.
Lessons from a year of lockdown should change this for the future. Many top jobs can now be done from any location. While in-person work experience continues to be crucial, online options offer a great opportunity to increase access and diversify workforces.
Employers should increasingly offer remote work experience and entry level jobs so that young people, wherever they are in the country, can get on the pathway to any profession.
4. Inclusive teaching
Make all subjects more inclusive
In the last 18 months we’ve explored the barriers that prevent too many girls and women from pursuing STEM routes, as well as the consequences of teaching literature almost exclusively written by White authors in secondary schools.
We found an enormous appetite among teachers and students alike to make sure that what is taught in schools – and how it is taught – represents the full breadth of the modern British experience. Not least to ensure that no child feels that any subject is inherently ‘not for them’, regardless of their class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality or any other characteristic that makes them who they are.
Schools should celebrate the achievements and experiences of people from a wide range of backgrounds. To enable this, exam boards should diversify their specifications and the Department for Education should publish accessible guidance to support diversity and inclusion in every subject.
Students have raised concerns about a lack of curriculum diversity with
20% of English teachers and 27% of secondary headteachers
5. Diverse leadership
Support the development of aspiring school leaders from underrepresented backgrounds
In state-funded schools, around 26% of pupils identify as BAME, compared to 9% of teachers. That’s over two million BAME children yet fewer than 44,000 BAME teachers. And representation only decreases with seniority: only 5% of senior leaders and 3% of headteachers identify as BAME.
If any profession, including the education sector, is unrepresentative, it indicates unconscious biases in recruitment or progression routes that need to be addressed.
Roll out a comprehensive programme of support and development for aspiring school leaders from underrepresented backgrounds. Hiring managers in schools should receive training to recruit and develop more diverse leadership teams.
6. Support services
Increase funding for non-education services that support children and families
In the decade to 2019-20, spending by local authorities on services for pupils and schools reduced by 57% in real terms. We know from speaking to schools daily that that educators are devoting an increasing amount of time and resources to make up for this. This disproportionately affects schools in the most deprived areas.
Many teachers feel they need to provide a broader range of community support for families which will, in turn, help their pupils engage in school. But this should not come at the expense of teaching and learning.
Increase funding for non-education services outside the school gates that support children and families, including mental health and social services. Separate funding should also be made available for schools that want to employ additional staff trained to engage with parents, run family support services or integrate services between schools and local authorities.
79% of teachers in disadvantaged schools
would like to embed more fully-funded services for parents, such as literacy and CV sessions and social service support
7. Technology access
Give every household access to the internet, and every young person in education access to a working digital device
Most teachers think some online learning practices will continue after lockdown, particularly when it comes to setting and collecting homework. But for those children and families who still don’t have access to technology, or the skills to take full advantage of it, they risk being left behind. It could also make teachers less inclined to work in disadvantaged schools if not all students are able to engage online.
An expansion in online work experience could be hugely beneficial for disadvantaged students living in remote areas, but such opportunities rely on reliable technology access.
Give every household access to the internet, and every child and young person in education access to a working digital device.
Over half of teachers
in the most disadvantaged schools say giving every household access to the internet and digital devices would make the biggest difference to their pupils
Commit to long-term tutoring support for disadvantaged pupils
COVID-19 has not affected everyone equally and neither has the disruption brought about by school closures. Disadvantaged students were less likely to access digital learning, dedicated study spaces and private tutors. This has widened the attainment gap between children from low-income backgrounds and their wealthier classmates.
With just 6-12 weeks of small group tuition, children make on average five months of progress. Accelerating learning is needed so that children don’t fall behind and additional tutoring is a highly popular option with parents.
Make the National Tutoring programme long-term, allowing school leaders to plan ahead.
9. Teacher timetables
Reduce teachers' timetables in the most disadvantaged communities
If we truly want to ‘level up’, schools serving disadvantaged communities need to not only be as good as other schools, they need to be the best. To achieve this we need to support teachers to be as effective as they can be. Because teachers are the biggest factor in the quality of education a child receives.
By reducing teachers’ timetables schools in less-advantaged communities would become places where teachers could:
- dedicate more time to their own professional development to keep improving
- target additional support for pupils who are struggling
- be given space to plan great lessons.
This would not only help attract the best teachers – the result would be an even better education for their pupils.