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

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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.

Project Access joins the Fair Education Alliance

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Project Access is excited to announced it has joined the Fair Education Alliance, a coalition of over 100 organisations working together to tackle educational inequality.

Project Access was started three years ago by a group of university students who wanted to unleash the full potential of the student community to solve the university access challenge. To do this they started a mentorship programme where currents students help prospective applicants from underrepresented backgrounds achieve a place at selective universities. The organisation is now helping 300 students per year and aims to reach a level where it can provide a comprehensive and scalable scheme that can ensure that all pupils receive the support they need to reach a university that matches their potential. In building it up they are therefore looking to build an infrastructure whereby they can help thousands of students each year, and thereby level the playing field in university admissions.

Anna Gross, a founder of the organisation, said:

Social mobility will not be easily achieved. It needs commitment from all parts of society to be realised. However, the more we are able to think systemically about the issue we are trying to solve as an organisation and do that very well, the more likely we are to get closer to a world where it can be, and where those graduating from selective universities are more representative of society at large. This, in turn, will drive change.

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

We are delighted to have Project Access join the Alliance. Our most recent state of the nation report showed that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are nearly ten times less likely to go to a top university. In a world where a degree is a requirement for a huge range of jobs, poorer children are put at a huge disadvantage for the rest of their lives. Project Access' initiatives level the playing field to help ensure that those children have the support they need and have the same opportunities in life as their wealthier peers. These are the sorts of programmes that we want to see extended all across the country.

If you are interested in learning more about Project Access’s journey, or have input or advice for them along the way, please reach out to anna.gross@projectaccess.org.

Youth Response to the 2018 Report Card

In September 2018 we held our first Fair Education Youth Summit in partnership with Get2Learn, a youth advocacy group that works to get youth voice represented in the development of policy that will affect their future society.

With a commitment to improving the lives of young people, and ensuring the effectiveness of the work undertaken, Get2Learn and the FEA have collaborated to provide an insight into the views and proposals of young people in response to the FEA’s 2018 Report Card. The result of the Fair Education Youth Summit, this response explores two major themes of the report: university admissions, and provision of rounded education.

In this report, Get2Learn outlines what they see as being the cause of inequalities, and put forward key proposals that youth see as being integral to the progression of educational social mobility.

Read more here