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A letter from the Teach First National Schools’ Forum to the Education Secretary

The Teach First community calls for more action to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not left behind during this challenging time.

Dear Education Secretary,

Society faces a unique challenge and the children and families in disadvantaged communities will face the greatest struggle.

Many schools will close. But teachers in disadvantaged areas across the country are stepping up to make sure that no child is left behind. As we plan ahead for how, as a country, we recover, teachers, support staff and education will surely be at the heart of these efforts.

Building on the steps you’ve taken so far and building on feedback from our fellow headteachers we’re calling for:

Support for disadvantaged children to learn at home

  • Internet providers to lift data caps for vulnerable households.
  • Technology firms to provide safe devices for children most in need to be able to study.
  • Energy companies to provide electricity for disadvantaged pupils to learn from home. 

Clarity on funding for free school meals provision

  • Your steps to ensure pupils do not go without free school meals is welcome, urgent clarity on the process of reimbursement and when schools will be able to access funds is vital.
  • Quick access to free meals for pupils in families who fall into poverty in the months ahead will be essential.  

Fair exam grades

  • Many young people face uncertainty about their exam grades and futures. We must ensure that steps are taken to award grades fairly and prevent further increases in inequality. Marks linked to past performance could disadvantage hard working pupils, teachers and improving ‘turnaround’ schools. 

Long-term support to recover

  • When schools return support must be weighted towards those serving disadvantaged communities. This must be a priority to prevent the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils from growing.

We urge businesses, Government and wider society to keep supporting the drive to build a fair education for all.

Sincerely,

Anna Hennell James and Jason Ashley, Co-Chairs, Teach First National Schools’ Forum.

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