Unseen Children reviews the current pattern of disadvantage and educational success across England. It aims to learn the lessons of recent policy initiatives, and make proposals that would really make a difference.
Disadvantage in the home affects success in education by limiting expectations, but schools can work to overcome this. Isolation of schools can inhibit the potential for progress as resources and practice cannot be shared between schools, and they do not get the input of a community. However, there are also limitations in what is provided in the local community, and this is all the more reason to improve the institutional weaknesses in schooling. Changes need to be made for improving the individual schools as well as the local authority area.
The work to progress this needs to go beyond individual schools and take into the approach work with the local authority and beyond. Schools have managed to make some progress in the recent decades, with a better percentage achieving ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ through Ofsted, but the disadvantage faced due to inequality is hard to shift. In Hull for example, the percentage of low income background pupils attaining 5 good GCSEs has increased at a slower rate than the national average. Furthermore, it is in these most disadvantaged areas where schools are least likely to achieve ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ status.
Working to improve the effects of inequalities requires vigorous impact measurement to ensure successful high quality delivery and leadership from both teachers and staff beyond the school. Key to this is looking beyond only educational achievement, and also improving pupils resilience and readiness for learning, and delivering on this from an early age. Initiatives should target the schools with the higher numbers of low income pupils, be that measured by pupil premium or free school meals, and apply a ‘whole school approach’ to this. Working in these areas to advance achievement, can then equip pupils for further education and success in later life.
“Financial hardship does not have to equate to a lack of care, happiness or academic achievement for vulnerable children in English schools. Evolve exists to break this cycle of intergenerational poverty that is linked to poor educational outcomes in disadvantaged areas.
Programmes, strategies and tools are available that has been proven to improve these alarming statistics but sufficient funding is required at an upstream level to reduce the billions of pounds that are currently being spent at the sharp end of these societal challenges.”
– John Bishop, Evolve Managing Director
To read the full report, click here.