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.

FEA response to latest UCAS data

UCAS’ latest data, released today, shows that disadvantaged students are 15 times less likely to go to a top university than their more advantaged peers, and nearly half as likely to go to university at all.

Fair Education Alliance CEO, Sam Butters, said:

These are shocking statistics. University education continues to be a requirement for many jobs, so it is incredibly disappointing that disadvantaged students are still not getting the same life chances as their more privileged peers.

The Fair Education Alliance is committed to closing this gap and ensuring no student’s success is limited by their background. Ensuring disadvantaged students have the information and opportunities they need to make post-16 decisions that are right for them is one of our three priorities, and we are pleased to be working with UCAS and others in achieving this.

Technical Note

This year’s data uses different equality characteristics than those used in previous years. Under the old measurements, included in the FEA’s 2018 Report Card, disadvantaged students were 10 times less likely to attend higher tariff universities in 2017. Under the new measure the equivalent figure for 2017 is 14.6 times.

FEA recommendations included in DfE Recruitment and Retention Strategy

The strategy is a welcome step and success will come from collaboration beyond government.

The Fair Education Alliance’s recommendations to improve teacher recruitment and retention through measures on accountability, school culture, and teacher career development have been included in the Department for Education’s new Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy and Early Career Framework. The strategy was developed in collaboration with FEA members including NAHT, the Chartered College of Teaching, Ambition School Leadership, and Teach First.

The DfE’s strategy, published today, outlines plans to reduce teacher workloads, simplify accountability measures, and provide more support for early stage teachers to make teaching a more attractive career path.

Sam Butters, CEO of Fair Education Alliance, said:

Recruiting and retaining teachers, particularly in disadvantaged communities is one of our three Fair Education Alliance priorities to improve education for disadvantaged young people so we are thrilled to see the Department for Education strategy today. More importantly, the commitment to working in partnership with organisations from the FEA and beyond to make the changes is critical. No government, organisation or even sector can achieve these ambitious changes alone. Previous attempts at this have failed and we are now at crisis point so we need everyone on board and working together, not against each other to finally make the changes needed. Our members look forward to continuing to work with the Department to implement its strategy.

In its report in September last year, the FEA pushed for renewed focus and investment and commitment on leadership, CPD, and wellbeing in schools in order to address the crisis in recruitment and retention, specifically calling for the government to support and empower teachers and leaders to reduce and manage workloads, remove high-stakes accountability measures, and ensure that teaching is a rewarding and attractive career pathway.

The FEA is spreading best practice in training and retention, developing resources with practical advice on how to implement best practice, and signposting organisations that can offer support to schools.

The new strategy was developed in partnership with Ambition School Leadership and the Institute for Teaching, Teach First, the Chartered College of Teaching, and the Teacher Development Trust, all leading members of the FEA’s working group on teacher leadership, CPD, and wellbeing. The working group will continue to collaborate with the DfE as the strategy begins to be rolled out.

Great teaching is one of the most well-evidenced interventions that can be made to improve educational outcomes, but teachers are leaving schools at the same rate they join, whilst pupil numbers are rising significantly. Research by the Nuffield Foundation has found that schools in areas with higher levels of deprivation are more likely to struggle to attract teachers.

Speakers for Schools joins the Fair Education Alliance

Speakers for Schools.jpg

Speakers for Schools is pleased to announce it has joined the Fair Education Alliance, a coalition of over 100 organisations working together to tackle educational inequality.

A UK education charity launched in 2011, Speakers for Schools levels the playing field for state secondary school students by increasing access to inspiring talks and work experience with today’s top figures and leading employers. Through their programme of free school talks, esteemed work experience and linked partner opportunities, Speakers for Schools connects young people with the leaders of today, creating better access to expert resources and opportunities ensuring state educated students feel prepared and confident about their future.

Ashley Hodges, CEO at Speakers for Schools Education, said:

Social mobility can be stinted if state school students don’t have access to the same opportunities as their fee-paying counterparts. Evidence points to state school students having less confidence in their future prospects caused by perceived barriers to success such as a lack of connections and access to work experience. At Speakers for Schools, we believe having access to leading figures and their illustrious organisations disrupts this pattern and gives state school students the opportunity to engage with influential people who can share guidance and expertise on how to reach the top via our engaging school talks and impactful S4SNextGen work experience programme.

Our charity already works with many like-minded organisations to see that state schools are connected with all the support they need, so we look forward to working collaboratively with the Fair Education Alliance to help us all tackle educational inequality, ensuring every young person has an enriched and rounded education.

Sam Butters, CEO of the Fair Education Alliance, said:

Research has shown that from a very young age, social capital matters a great deal in inspiring children to set their aspirations high. When disadvantaged children have the opportunity to meet influential figures and here about their experiences, it can have a transformational effect on their confidence and school performance. Speakers for Schools’ work in providing these opportunities is fantastic, and we are delighted to have them join the Alliance.

Ensuring we have an education system which develops the whole child is a key priority for the Fair Education Alliance, and through our project on rounded education a number of our member organisations, including Speakers for Schools, are seeking to share and embed effective practices  which develop social and emotional skills and wellbeing alongside academic attainment to reach more young people. Independent evaluations have shown that this can decrease behavioural issues and increase prosocial behaviour.

For more information about Speakers for Schools and their work, please visit www.speakers4schools.org

Notes to Editors

About the Fair Education Alliance

Please see our press page.

About Speakers for Schools

For more information about this press release, please get in touch with our team at: team@speakers4schools.org

Speakers for Schools is a UK education charity launched in 2011 to help level the playing field for state secondary schools and their students by increasing access to inspiring talks and engagements with today’s top figures and employers, as often seen in fee-paying schools. Speakers are high-profile leaders and experts donating their time and travel, keeping all engagements free of charge to our schools.

In 2017, the charity launched S4SNextGen, its portal connecting state schools with speakers’ esteemed companies to offer work experience and related placements to those students who need it the most: S4SNextGen.org.

The charity was founded by Robert Peston and has facilitated over 5,500 school talks and 800 placements reaching over 600,000 young people to date. Chaired by Andrew Law with a board of trustees, the charity is funded by the Law Family Charitable Foundation.

Visit www.speakers4schools.org to find out more about how you can get involved today.