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Tackling inequality is a priority, Teach First tells PM

Teach First calls for tackling educational inequality to be at heart of new government agenda to 'build a better Britain'

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 26, 2016 | Events

At its Impact Conference yesterday, Teach First called on the new government to urgently tackle educational inequality and place it at the centre of its new agenda to ‘build a better Britain’. 

The charity warns without a focus on education in areas of the country being left behind, thousands of young people risk losing out and will become disenfranchised. 

In her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May put education at the heart of her mission, highlighting those at a state school are less likely to reach the top professions, while white working class boys are now significantly under-represented at university. 

Founder and CEO, Brett Wigdortz OBE, spoke ahead of Teach First’s Impact Conference, which brought together more than 4,000 teachers, social entrepreneurs, policy makers and business leaders in Europe’s largest conference focused on tackling educational inequality. 

Wigdortz called the Brexit vote a ‘game-changer’ for the need to invest in education. He said persistent educational inequalities have resulted in resentment against the status quo and the new Prime Minister needs to focus on those being left without the educational and life opportunities they deserve.

The call comes as Teach First, the UK’s largest graduate recruiter, announces it will help tackle this problem by sending its 10,000th participant to teach in schools in low income communities this year. Since an initial cohort of 186 participants started in London schools in 2003, Teach First has expanded across all areas of England and Wales. Its participants have collectively taught over a million pupils, all in schools serving low income communities. London schools are now some of the best performing in the country and over the last two years the charity has increasingly focused on the new areas of educational need. 

With the need to focus on areas of the country left behind clearer than ever, the charity is increasing its presence in coastal towns and areas where education and social inequality remains a persistent challenge. This year 1,441 new teachers will join Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme, with the charity placing its first cohorts in Skegness, Scarborough, Lowestoft and Lydney, and expanding its presence in Thanet, Blackpool, the Isle of Wight and Stoke. 

Wigdortz states that within the newly expanded remit of the Department for Education, there is an opportunity to provide cradle to career support for the next generation – ensuring no child falls through the gaps between education, employment or training. 

He said: “Educational inequality is a slow burning injustice that goes unnoticed, but threatens the very fabric and foundations of a fair society. The fact that a child from a poorer background is less likely to succeed at school and life is totally at odds with a British sense of fair play. We need to invest in the communities and young people that have been left behind if we are to build a better Britain.

“The expanded remit of the Department for Education is a positive and welcome step, enabling support from cradle to career. Every one of us now needs to step up to play our role and make education the number one national priority in the post Referendum world.

“I’m proud that Teach First has now provided over 10,000 talented individuals who have worked to improve education in low income communities. We know we now need to increase our focus on areas left behind, and I’m pleased we’re growing our presence in communities facing the greatest educational challenge.” 

www.teachfirst.org.uk

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