Highlights from the FEA Summit 2019

Event Overview

On Thursday 27th June, we held our annual Summit at Allen & Overy. The event saw 117 attendees from over 100 organisations come together to connect, share and collectively drive change.

The day kicked off with an overview from our CEO Sam Butters on the FEA’s journey so far (click here for slides) and the upcoming merger with the Teach First Innovation Unit, followed by an inspiring keynote from our new Chair Vanessa Ogden (click here for slides, and click here for the video).

This was followed by working sessions run by the Collective Action Projects in our three priority areas: teachers and leaders, rounded education and post-16 destinations (click here for the narrative and click here for slides). Everyone shared their ideas and worked together to collaboratively shape each priority area’s action plan and the changes the FEA network wants to see.

After networking over lunch, the afternoon focused on a deep dive into the FEA’s activities and the enhanced opportunities available to members (click here for slides), with a focus on how the FEA network can help members increase individual, organisational and collective impact towards building a fairer education system for all young people (click here for the template attendees filled out on the day).

Top 5 Takeaways

1. The network valued the chance to connect with fellow members

Like-minded individuals from across a wide range of different organisations, all united by their shared goal of ending educational inequality, greatly valued having the space to connect and meet new people.

100% of survey respondents strongly agreed/agreed that they built connections with other attendees at the event

2. Collective Action Project sessions enhanced collaboration

Attendees enjoyed taking an active part in each of the three Collective Action Project sessions. We voted on these priorities in Summer 2018 and these member-led sessions were felt to be interactive and engaging. Involvement in the sessions meant members were able to directly shape the projects’ work and make recommendations that will feed into the action we take as an Alliance on these areas.

3. There is greater understanding and excitement for the FEA’s strategy

Following the exploration into the FEA’s updated strategy, attendees have said they came away with clarity on the alliance’s goals, activities, and future plans, and most importantly how they as members can get involved. There was particular interest in the FEA’s new activities, especially the Intrapreneurship and Innovation Awards. In reply to what the top thing they learned on the day was, one out of six said that it was finding out about these two awards.

4. There was strong appetite to include young people and teacher voice

Recurring feedback was that attendees would have liked to have heard input from more teachers about school-based interventions that have worked, as well as their insights on how to scale them. Whilst the Summit was attended by two young people, one of whom co-designed and co-led the Post-16 destination working sessions, there was strong appetite to have a greater number of young people in the room.


5. Sharing is caring!

Over 100 tweets using the official event hashtag #faireducationsummit19 were posted, reaching close to 113k accounts. In keeping with the spirit of sharing, when asked what they would do as a result of what they learned at the Summit, the majority of attendees pledged to share key learnings from the event with their colleagues and partners to keep the momentum of the event and the spirit of collaboration going.

I had a fantastic day, thank you! I left feeling inspired to keep collaborating and working towards a fairer education system in the UK.
— FEA Summit 2019 attendee

We're hiring for a Communications and Membership Manager!

Job title: Communications and Membership Manager
Location: London
Start date: 3rd June 2019
Contract: Fixed term to 31st August 2019
Salary: £24,765 + £3,000 London weighting

The Fair Education Alliance

The Fair Education Alliance is the UK's largest and most influential education coalition. We are a unique group of over 100 organisations dedicated to ending educational inequality by working together to make progress more quickly.

Young people from low income communities are much less likely to succeed than their wealthier peers. The achievement gap begins long before they start primary school and widens throughout their education. The reasons for this inequality are not simple, and lie in an intricate web of social issues. Addressing such complex problems takes more than one institution, one organisation, or even one government.

We bring expertise from multiple sectors and geographies, and use our collective voice and collaboration to tackle this problem together.

2019 represents a groundbreaking year for our alliance. From 1st September, the FEA will be establishing as a separate entity from Teach First and merging with another team the Teach First Innovation Unit, a powerful engine of growth for grassroots solutions.

Job Purpose

Our small FEA secretariat team (currently two people) is big on impact. You will support and work closely with the CEO to manage FEA events and membership communications and will manage the FEA’s key relationships.

You’re integral to the team in this important transition period for the organisation, ensuring core activities of the FEA are run effectively whilst we merge with the Innovation Unit team. You will also work closely with the Innovation Unit team, building relationships and joint team working ahead of the launch of the new entity in September.

Key Responsibilities

You will have responsibility for:

  • Leading on the preparation of key member engagement events (including collective action project meetings, roundtables, and our annual summit on 27th June)

  • Supporting our membership and managing membership data and relationship

  • Leading our comms including our state of the nation on educational inequality

  • Managing the CEO’s diary and team admin

  • Acting as secretary to the Board at quarterly meetings

  • Working closely with the Innovation Unit team, building relationships and joint team working

Experience, Skills, and Technical Competencies


  • Event/workshop planning

  • Excellent communication skills – written and verbal

  • Ability to build rapport and relationships with a wide range of stakeholders

  • Excellent organisation skills

  • Ability to work independently/self-starter


  • Working with external stakeholders or membership organisations

  • Writing concise briefings, consultation responses, correspondence and speeches

  • Developing membership engagement strategies

  • Proactive relationship management and managing the systems to support this

  • Knowledge of the education, political and policy landscape with suitable connections

  • Managing communications projects, delivering in areas such as digital and social media

  • Working with coalitions


The alliance secretariat is hosted at Teach First’s London office at 6 Mitre Passage, London SE10 0ER. We have a flexible working arrangement that allows you to split your time between working at home and working in our office. You will also typically attend events and meeting with our members and partners around London.

How to Apply

Please send a cover note and CV to sbutters@faireducation.org.uk by Friday 17th May. Interviews will be w/c 20 May with an ideal start date in early June

We aim to provide feedback to all applications within 10 working days from the closing date.

Developing teachers and leaders with Ambition Institute


I’m really excited to introduce a new organisation to the Fair Education Alliance: Ambition Institute.

We brought together Ambition School Leadership – a long-standing member of the FEA – and the Institute for Teaching back in September 2018, forming a new organisation dedicated to helping educators serving children from disadvantaged backgrounds to keep getting better.

I am so proud to be leading this brand new organisation and I’m excited to start addressing the biggest challenge (and opportunity) in the sector: educator development.

The school community has played an important part in the development of Ambition Institute and their insight into what they want when developing teachers and leaders has been invaluable. We’ve listened to their needs, reflected on our own experience from years of educator development, and drawn on the best evidence to make sure that our organisation can have the impact we need it to have.

That’s why we created a graduate school for teachers, school leaders and system leaders.

We are combining the academic rigour of a traditional university with the essential classroom connection of a teaching school, all underpinned by the social purpose of a charity. And this social purpose – our mission and vision – is the bedrock on which Ambition Institute has been built.

In common with every member of the FEA, we want an education system where every child can thrive, no matter what their background. Our own programmes are our principal route to delivering this – supporting educators at every level to keep getting better – but our membership of the FEA is also crucial.

By working in partnership with like-minded charities, businesses and government bodies, we can reach our goal sooner. That’s why we’re proud to be leading on one of the FEA’s priorities for this year: world class teachers and transformative leaders for all UK schools, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas.

we’re proud to be leading on one of the FEA’s priorities for this year: world class teachers and transformative leaders for all UK schools, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas

We know that recruiting and retaining great teachers and leaders is huge challenge for schools, especially those in challenging contexts. Educator development is the key lever to addressing this.

The Department for Education’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy adopted this approach this with the introduction of the early career framework; directly responding to the high attrition rates of teachers in the first five years of their careers with more strategic support and development to keep them in the classroom – and to keep getting better.

As a coalition, we can help to mobilise the reforms in the DfE’s strategy, and take them further; reaching into our extensive networks of frontline educators to support the development of a world-class teaching workforce.

This is no mean feat in the current climate. I have spoken about the need for development providers to recognise the tough budget decisions school leaders need to make every day. CPD and investment in staff, including their wellbeing, can be the first casualty of this financial climate.

I believe one important role this coalition can play is to build the business case for educator development, giving schools the evidence they need to protect, and prioritise, funding for continually developing their staff.

We can also use our collective voice to influence the quality standards of development provision: using our view across the sector to identify the programmes and providers which evidence the greatest impact on pupil outcomes, and signposting these to schools in our networks.

Finally, we can use our reach to fly the flag for educator development, and celebrate the schools and systems which are leading the way in this area to the benefit of the pupils they serve.

Schools that prioritise professional development are beacons for educators at all levels, attracting and retaining talented teachers and leaders who are passionate about giving pupils the best. We need to make sure that these beacons can be found across the country, in all communities, reaching pupils from all backgrounds. This is what Ambition Institute has set out to achieve, and it is a goal we will reach more quickly in coalition with our fellow FEA members.


Melanie Renowden is Interim CEO of Ambition Institute.

She has worked for nearly 25 years in education in the public and voluntary sectors. Before joining Ambition in 2011, she was Education Director at Business in the Community and Head of ‘Science Year’, a DfE STEM programme for schools. She is a former trustee of Teach First and is currently trustee of a primary multi academy trust.



FEA response to Selective Schools Expansion Fund

The Fair Education Alliance condemns the Government’s decision to launch another round of the Selective Schools Expansion Fund and argues the £50 million would be better invested in comprehensive education and teacher training.

Sam Butters CEO of Fair Education Alliance said:

It is deeply disappointing to see that the Government is yet again pushing for the expansion of selective schools, which have been shown and time again to have a negative impact on social mobility.

We need to be investing in the education of all young people, not siphoning off a select few. If we invested the same time and resources into comprehensive education we could improve outcomes for all children.

Research by the Education Policy Institute, the Sutton Trust and other has shown that selective education has a negative impact on social mobility, and that pupils who attend grammar schools do no better than similar pupils in high performing comprehensives.

The Alliance calls for the £50 million fund to be invested in comprehensive education and programmes that are proven to have an impact on the lives of the most disadvantaged young people. Its coalition of over 100 leading education organisations identified three priorities for investment, including developing teachers and leaders serving disadvantaged communities, and providing disadvantaged children with a rounded education that focuses on character and social and emotional skills as well as academic attainment.

FEA response to SoS's speech on character education

The Fair Education Alliance urges DfE to tackle financial and accountability barriers to character education.

Schools in disadvantaged areas must have the resources they need to provide their students with a rounded education.

Sam Butters CEO of Fair Education Alliance said:

We warmly welcome the Secretary of State’s speech today on character education, particularly the emphasis on access for disadvantaged pupils inside and outside the school walls, but the DfE must tackle the financial and accountability barriers schools face in providing character-building opportunities to their students.

We have campaigned strongly on the benefits of rounded education and an education system that develops the whole child, and I invite the DfE to work with our coalition of organisations representing all five of the Minister’s foundations of character, including the Youth Sports Trust, Children’s University, Voice21, Step Up To Serve, and Young Enterprise in developing these plans further.

The Fair Education Alliance welcomes the Secretary of State’s speech on the value of education beyond academic attainment, but urges the DfE to also ensure they are tackling the financial and accountability barriers which are preventing schools offering this.

Social and emotional skills like character and resilience are vital for succeeding in school and in life, and the Fair Education Alliance is committed to ensuring disadvantaged students get the same life chances as their peers.

Many schools want to provide access to sport, creativity, performing, and volunteering opportunities for their pupils, but budget cuts in schools and communities coupled with high stakes accountability focused on exam results have led to tough decisions about what they can offer.

Many of the FEA’s member organisations are the providers of the types of activity that the Minister has outlined; sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership. Sam says “The more young people who can access this type of provision the more we can close gaps in outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, but this will only be possible if there is the funding and incentives to make this a reality.”

The FEA’s coalition of school leaders, parents, wellbeing experts, and skills organisations  is gathering case studies and evidence of effective interventions and will develop toolkits of resources with practical advice for schools on how to implement best practice and information about organisations that can offer them support.