Department for Education announce £200 million of funding pledge to address the disadvantage gap – a review

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The Department for Education has announced a start to education trials and interventions as they seek to improve attainment across schools, colleges and early years settings. Such action has been backed by a new multi-million government grant. The Department for Education is set to continue funding the Education Endowment Foundation with a new grant £137 million, thereby cementing the independent charity’s role as a central part of the education landscape for the next decade.

The EEF will continue to support the Government’s teacher training reforms. whilst expanding activity in the early years. Such action comes in conjunction with the EEF working as the evidence partner for the Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs, which are due to launch in November 2022, to share effective evidence-based practices with local settings to help boost young children’s development. The Government will also announce a further £66 million for the next phase of the Accelerator Fund to increase access to high-quality literacy and numeracy programmes in schools over the next three academic years.

These pledges derive from the Government’s commitment to ensure that any child who falls behind in maths or English will get the support they need to get back on track.

Evidence based scheme for all

Schools Minister, Will Quince, said: “The re-endowment of the EEF, in addition to funding to continue the Accelerator Fund, will provide the evidence base that allows schools and teachers to give children the best start to their education.”

“This work, in addition to our ambitious education recovery plan, will help to improve the attainment of millions of pupils and level up opportunities across the country”

Upon reflection on the schemes put forward by the EEF, Sir Peter Lampl chair of the EEF stated that “Over the past decade, the EEF has built a reputation as a trusted and independent source of evidence. The new endowment will allow us to continue to evaluate and spread best practice across the country, as well as expand our work in the early years sector.

High-quality evidence plays an important role in supporting education practitioners’ own professional judgement, as they work to make sure that every child and young person has access to a great education.”

Final reflections on the Department for Education’s focus

The governments announcement comes as a positive step in the efforts to address the disadvantage gap. It is clear that one of the reasons that educational inequalities attract government attention is because of the effect that education can have on later life outcomes. The Institute for Fiscal Studies released the Deaton Review on Education Inequalities highlighted several issues pertaining to the correlation between systematic underfunding and life chances. A key position put forward by the IFS stated that higher levels of qualifications are strongly associated with better prospects in the labour market, thus people with lower levels of qualifications are more exposed to slow earnings growth over their lives.

What is striking is that the IFS highlighted that not only is a resourced classroom a key indicator to the level of child attainment in GCSE’s; gaps pertaining to household incomes present a strong predictor of attainment between pupils. The study highlighted that pupils who do not qualify for free school meals are three times more likely to achieve their expected grades at age 11 and GCSE, and three times more likely to then go on to attend selective higher education institutions.

Final Thought

In light of this, the IFS report offers insights into the plethora of obstacles prohibiting successful attainment in maths and English literacy. As such, it is clear that a cross departmental strategy is needed to address the correlation of household income to educational attainment. As was viscerally displayed during the Covid-19 lockdowns, access to adequate space, parental support, and basic essentials in a household are the citadels to pupils attaining adequate maths and English literacy. In summary, it is now time for the Department of Education to review the aims made in the Child Poverty Act 2010 and to broaden its funding approach beyond the classroom and into children centers that work with low income pupils after the formal school day ends.


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