A fighting chance for every child
A manifesto to end educational inequality
As our country begins to rebuild after COVID-19, it’s time to break the cycle of inequality.
That’s why we’ve built a manifesto, featuring proposals that we believe need to be adopted by policymakers, school and business leaders in the years to come so that every child has a fighting chance to reach their potential.
To help us, we’ve heard from thousands of teachers, engaged with some of the country’s top business people and spoken to education policy specialists about what they think would make the biggest difference in education. They spoke and we listened.
We know change won’t happen overnight, but we’re not after quick wins. These are the issues that we’ll be campaigning on in the years to come. The proposals go way beyond ‘COVID-19 recovery’, because recovering to a pre-pandemic state of affairs isn’t good enough. Our challenge for the next decade is to work towards eliminating inequality in education.
Below you’ll find our manifesto, made up of eleven commitments needed to give every child a fighting chance.
We need an education system that is fairly and fully funded
A teacher’s job is to teach. But to teach successfully, the conditions need to be right, and schools need to be well resourced.
1. Increase funding for schools serving disadvantaged communities
We’re calling for the government to significantly increase the funding that will be allocated to schools between 2022/23 and 2025/26. We believe the fairest way to do this is by increasing the Pupil Premium significantly, to make sure that pupils in the most disadvantaged communities get the support that they need to thrive.
2. Boost the COVID-19 education recovery package
The government should boost the Covid-19 education recovery package and provide a short term-injection of funding for schools who choose to employ specialist staff to support with pastoral care, additional needs and family engagement.
3. Increase funding for non-education services that support children and families
In the medium term, there needs to be a significant and sustained uplift to local government funding for children’s and young people’s services. Teachers should be able to focus on teaching, and wider support services (including for children with special educational needs and disabilities) should be provided by the expert bodies.
4. Reduce teachers' timetables in the most disadvantaged communities
The government should pilot a reduction in teacher’s timetables in 1% of disadvantaged secondary schools in England. Teachers in these schools face unique challenges that require extra time to plan for and respond to. For many, this makes it impossible to teach a typical timetable without working extra hours most weekdays and at weekends. If these teachers taught fewer lessons per week, they would have more time to spend on planning great lessons and developing into brilliant teachers. Well planned lessons from excellent teachers are what pupils deserve and need to realise their potential.
We have worked with the economist Luke Sibieta to model how much this would cost. Click here to read the the full technical report.
After the year we’ve just had, the Government needs to empower schools to invest in their own growth, with protected resources. Only then will we be able to help every pupil thrive in a post-pandemic world.
We need an education system that is inclusive
We believe in the power of a broad, ambitious, and knowledge-rich curriculum. We also agree with the many teachers and pupils who believe what is taught in schools – and how it is taught – should represent the full breadth of the modern British experience.
The most effective workforces are those that reflect the diversity of the community that they serve. Yet, in state-funded English schools, only 9% of teachers identify as BAME, compared to 26% of pupils. If a profession is unrepresentative of the population, then it indicates that there are biases in recruitment or progression routes that need to be addressed.
5. Make all subjects more inclusive
We would like to see ‘Curriculum Forums’ used to facilitate a constructive national debate about inclusivity in curricula. These forums would be demographically and politically diverse advisory groups, comprised of teachers, young people, and other education specialists. The aim would be to find common ground on content, spread expertise and share resources to support schools to teach rich and diverse content across all subjects and phases.
6. Support schools to recruit a more diverse workforce
Schools should be supported to implement fair and unbiased recruitment practices.
7. Nurture leadership talent from underrepresented groups
The Department for Education should create and fund a development programme for aspiring leaders from underrepresented groups, drawing on the successes of schemes such as the Civil Service Positive Action Pathway.
True representation within education should be about ensuring that our pupils feel genuinely reflected the moment they walk through the school gates, and better understand the diverse world around them when they leave for their next steps in life.
We need an education system that prepares young people for their future
Post-pandemic, we face an uncertain jobs market. It’s essential that young people from disadvantaged communities leave school with the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed in the world of work. Without high-quality support, there’s a real risk that, irrespective of the grades that they achieve, they will leave school unprepared for employment and income gaps will widen.
8. Develop careers education for primary schools
The Department for Education should work with others to publish a framework for effective careers learning in primary schools based on the Gatsby benchmarks. This should be paired with a new fund to train and support teachers in disadvantaged areas to deliver it effectively.
9. Make sure every secondary school has a trained Careers Leader
Training should be provided for a Careers Leader in every secondary school at mid to senior level by 2023. Schools in disadvantaged areas should receive full funding for this.
10. Increase access to work experience through remote placements
Large employers should develop and offer more remote and ‘blended’ work experience opportunities and entry level jobs. Outreach programmes should also be targeted at disadvantaged schools to encourage applications.
11. Give every household access to the internet, and every young person in education access to a working digital device
Investment should continue in the provision of laptops, tablets and internet routers for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. This should be paired with high quality teaching, support and guidance, so that they are able to get the best from the opportunities digital access offers.
No child’s future should be hindered because of their postcode, the least we can do is fully prepare them for their next steps in life.