The Fair Education Alliance was unveiled at the Wellington Education Festival last week and includes organisations such as Save the Children, the National Association of Head Teachers, Barnardo’s, Teach First, and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
All 25 organisations have signed up to work towards achieving five key targets, which have been dubbed the “Fair Education Impact Goals”.
The goals were created after consultation with more than 1,700 teachers and other experts. They are:
1. Narrow the gap in literacy and numeracy at primary school.
2. Narrow the gap in GCSE attainment at secondary school.
3. Ensure young people develop key strengths, including resilience and wellbeing, to support high aspirations.
4. Narrow the gap in the proportion of young people in education, employment or training one year after compulsory education.
5. Narrow the gap in university graduation, including from the 25 per cent most selective universities.
The Alliance contends that London and Birmingham are “holding up the rest of the country” when it comes to closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
In inner city London, nearly 55 per cent of pupils on free school meals (FSM) reach the five A* to C GCSE benchmark compared to 68 per cent nationally. In the West Midlands, the figure is 40 per cent, mainly driven by Birmingham.
However, elsewhere the gap is much wider, including a 32 per cent gap in the South East and a 40 per cent gap in Wales.
A statement from the Alliance said: “The achievement gap begins long before a child starts primary school and widens throughout their education. Young people from low-income communities often fall behind in literacy and numeracy at primary school, achieve fewer good GCSEs at secondary school, and are less likely to go to a top university.
“The most recent data reveals a stagnating map of educational inequality. Poor children in cities generally enjoy a significant advantage over their peers who grow up in similar backgrounds, but in smaller cities and market towns – reversing assumptions that educational inequality is an inner city burden.”
As part of its work to achieve the five goals, the Alliance has committed to “raising the public profile” of educational inequality, its causes and effects.
Brett Wigdortz, founder and chief executive of Teach First, said: “I believe we are wasting talent on an industrial scale; by joining forces we can ensure every child has a fair chance in education and life. We know all political parties and parents believe in this mission – it is time to change that belief into united action.”
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