FEA Report Card 2018

Over 100 organisations call for a national commitment to reduce educational inequality as report finds poorer students are less than half as likely to pass GCSE English and maths than their wealthier peers.

The Fair Education Alliance, a coalition of over 100 organisations, has today published its fourth annual Report Card, measuring progress towards its five ‘Fair Education Impact Goals’ which aim to narrow the gaps between the most advantaged and least advantaged students at each stage of education including gaps in skills and wellbeing.

Key Messages from the Report

Progress has been too slow and patchy.  Large gaps between the most advantaged and least advantaged students still remain across the country, and some gaps have widened. Small gaps at primary school level grow through to GCSE and university admission, leaving poorer students playing catch up for the rest of their lives.

The report’s findings include:

  • Disadvantaged pupils are more than 8 months behind their peers in reading, writing, and maths by age 11

  • Disadvantaged children are less than half as likely to achieve passes in GCSE English and maths.

  • Children from low-income families continue to be four times as likely to be permanently excluded from school

  • After taking their GCSES, disadvantaged children are six times more likely to be recorded as not in education, employment or training

  • Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are nearly ten times less likely to go to a top university

The FEA believes improvements can be made and educational inequality reduced, but changes need to be rolled out everywhere to achieve this. There are pockets around the country where the gap is small and closing fast. We need to take proven strategies from these areas and change the system nationwide to ensure the benefits are felt by every child in every school.

The coalition has identified three priorities that can be achieved if measures are rolled out across the whole system to make education fairer for every child:

  1. World-class teachers and leaders, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas

  2. An education system which develops the whole child, promoting emotional and social competencies alongside academic attainment

  3. Joined up support for all post-16 destinations, giving every student a choice about their future

We cannot do this alone – The FEA is committed to working to achieve this vision but we need a shared commitment as a country – from parents, young people, teachers, government, and businesses. Only together can we drive the systemic changes that will make education fair.


Sam Butters, CEO of the Fair Education Alliance:

“We have seen progress in pockets across the country but it is not enough - systemic change now needs to be rolled out everywhere. We need to take proven strategies from these areas and change the system nationwide to ensure the benefits are felt by every child in every school. None of us can do this alone, we need a shared commitment as a country – from parents, young people, teachers, government, and businesses. Only together can we drive the systemic changes that will make education fair.”

Sir Richard Lambert, Chair of the Fair Education Alliance:

“These objectives are more important than ever in the current UK context, a period of economic and political uncertainty, and a time when the pressures that drive communities apart can sometimes feel more powerful than those that hold them together. Our evidence points to two firm conclusions. The first is that deprivation is not destiny: there are plenty of examples of communities that have dramatically improved their educational outcomes for young people despite tough economic circumstances. The second is that the economic gains that would arise from eliminating extreme underperformance in schooling would be very significant”

David Soanes, UK Head of Country, UBS:

“As a unique coalition of more than 100 members, combining powerful expertise and experience in addressing educational inequality, the FEA, in the period since the last report card, has brought increased collaboration, focus and momentum to this critical endeavour. We cannot be complacent. Progress is patchy; it needs to be faster and the headwinds are strong.”

Melanie Richards, Deputy Chair, KPMG in the UK:

“It is heartening to see from this report that in some parts of the country progress is being made in reducing the attainment gap. There is still a way to go if we are to level the playing field and remove the inequality that characterises the education and careers landscape in the UK. But this serves to reinforce our belief in the initiatives we are pursuing and gives us further motivation for the future.”

Andrew Ballheimer, Global Managing Partner, Allen & Overy:

“We are delighted to be part of the Alliance. It allows us to make a difference in a more concerted way and offers the chance to learn from others, which we value highly. As this report card makes clear, it is only through joined-up, system-wide action that we will turn the localised successes we have achieved to date into benefits for society as a whole.”

Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact Joseph Dudley at during office hours, and Sam Butters via phone on 0776 682 7319 outside of office hours.

We would be happy to arrange broadcast appearances (Radio/TV) to discuss the report as well as print articles.

A full press kit with background notes and graphics can be found at


Report Card 2015 Launch Event

The Fair Education Alliance hosted an event at Church House in Westminster on Thursday 14th April 2016 to celebrate the launch of its second state of the nation Report Card released the previous day. Almost 200 people attended the event including students, teachers, journalists, and some of the senior figures from the world of education. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, provided the keynote speech in which he praised the Alliance’s policy and practice recommendations claiming that “[they] are exactly the sort of innovative thinking that we should be exploring.”

The keynote speech was followed by a panel response to the report. The panel consisted of CEO of Achievement for All Sonia Blandford, General Secretary of NAHT Russell Hobby, year 12 student and debater at Debate Mate Ella Cox, and founder of ELAM and one half of music duo Chase and Status Will Kennard, each of whom were able to provide a unique perspective on the issues raised in the report. The panel session was made more interactive with tweets from the audience about the topics being discussed appearing on the screen behind the panellists. There was also an opportunity for a Q and A session with the panellists and Sir Michael Wilshaw followed by an hour of networking.  

Read the 2015 Report Card

Read the full transcript of Sir Michael Wilshaw’s Speech

Watch the event in full

View the photos from the evening

55 strong coalition sets out national priorities to close the education gap: call to arms from the Fair Education Alliance

London, 13 April 2016

The Fair Education Alliance (FEA) has today published its second annual State of the Nation Report Card. The report finds that educational inequality remains deeply entrenched in the UK and outlines a number of policy recommendations for closing the gap between the poorest and more affluent students. The hard hitting recommendations include an overhaul of careers guidance, a mortgage deposit scheme for teachers and a greater effort by schools to promote the wellbeing and mental health of students. 

Endorsed by an alliance over 50 members and supporters (including Teach First, Save the Children, Achievement for All, NAHT, Business in the Community, Family Links and UBS - the founding corporate supporter and lead sponsor), the Report Card evaluates the UK education gap; measuring how the performance, prospects and wellbeing of young people from the poorest communities compares to their peers from more advantaged backgrounds. The FEA has set five impact goals to be achieved by 2022. The Report Card reports on progress on each.

1.       Narrow the primary school literacy and numeracy attainment gap

2.       Close the gap in GCSE attainment

3.       Improve the resilience and wellbeing of young people, especially in poorer communities

4.       Narrow the participation gap in post 16 education or training

5.       Close the graduation gap, with a particular focus on the most selective universities

There has been marginal progress on some indicators in the last 12 months, notably on GCSE attainment in the North East of England and a very small narrowing of the university graduation gap across the country. Progress has been static on the majority of indicators and on current trends, none of the 2022 impact goals will be realised.

In response to the findings, the FEA is calling for the adoption of a number of policies to drive progress in closing the gap.

  • Early years investment:  Every group setting serving the 30% most deprived neighbourhoods in England should be led by an early years teacher or equivalent specialist by 2020.  Collaborative models of continuing professional development should be implemented across networks of primary schools to share best practice in numeracy and literacy, including the sharing of specialist teachers.
  • Extra support and networks for teachers: To incentivise high performing teachers to commit to an area, government should trial the use of a mortgage deposit scheme to enable professionals to make the first step on the housing ladder.
  • To share networks and build best practice, every school should be part of a cluster or collaboration of schools; these may include academy chains, federations, cooperatives or any similar structure with strong mutual accountability.
  • Promoting and measuring character development, wellbeing and mental health: All school staff should receive evidence-led professional development and training to enable them to better support the development of these key qualities in children. Schools should develop an integrated approach to the character development of pupils, including a focus on social and emotional skills and good mental health for both children and staff.
  • To contribute to progress, FEA members will be working to creating a consensus behind an approach to measuring wellbeing and resilience.
  • Careers guidance: Highly trained advisers should be placed in the most disadvantaged schools to guarantee that their students receive individualised and impartial expert advice. Schools should build strong long-term partnerships with one or two key businesses on careers advice and the process should begin at primary school.

Sir Richard Lambert, Chair of the Fair Education Alliance commented:

“Inequality in education is deeply entrenched in our country and our Report Card is a stark reminder of the scale of the challenge. But I am confident that we can and will close the education gap. The Fair Education Alliance is an inspiring coalition of companies, charities and third sector organisations. Drawing on the talents, influence and passion of our members, I believe we can play an integral role in helping to deliver a high quality education for every child in Britain”.

The FEA, launched in 2014 has almost tripled in size over the last year. Oxford University, UCAS, Allen & Overy and The English Speaking Union are just some of the organisations that have joined the alliance over the past month. Will Kennard of Chase and Status will become a Fair Education Ambassador on behalf of the Alliance.

The report can be downloaded here