Curia’s Levelling Up commission is holding an Education Skills and Training inquiry session. Bringing together members of national, regional and local government with civil society, industry and the education sector, the questions and topics covered in this session will be key in shaping the recommendations of the commission, and will impact a report that will be presented to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
Chaired by the Former Shadow Minister for Social Care and Mental Health and Former Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Paula Sherriff, the session will feature leaders in the space of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provisions (AP) and Education Technology.
The Levelling Up commission
The commission understands Levelling Up as “the process of extending opportunities, improving wellbeing and reducing inequalities to empower citizens across the UK, through reducing disparity in resources and access to services. It involves concerted effort to bridge the gap between different regions and communities, with the ultimate goal of creating a more equitable and prosperous society.”
The Levelling Up Commission intends to consider ways to implement the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper and subsequent Bill from the perspective of local and regional government. Too often the Levelling Up agenda is something being done ‘to and for’ local and regional government, the Commission intends to make sure it is done ‘with and by’ them.
Through roundtable meetings with MPs and senior leaders of local and regional government from across the UK, quantitative data analysis and regional sprints, the Commission intends to set out a series of recommendations to consider how regional inequalities can be reduced from the perspective of public services.
Education skills and training session
Chaired by the former Shadow minister for Social Care and Mental Health and Former Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Paula Sherriff, the Education Skills and Training Session will take place over a two-hour sitting. The panels will be divided across three areas of focus which will be discussed over 40-minute-long sessions. The first will focus on identifying need-based barriers to educational attainment for disadvantaged pupils, thought the lens of pupil premium. The inquiry will look to understand how funding allocations have fared in identifying need-based barriers in education settings, what measures are undertaken to ensure funding is allocated justly.
The discussion will aim to build on how such funding-based provisions in schools provides students with better opportunities and access to community facilities to improve educational outcomes , along with the mental health of children and adolescent’s post-pandemic.
The second panel focuses on the ‘uneven’ bridges between education and labour force by discussing inequalities higher education and employment opportunities. With the growing educational divide and consequent gaps in literacy heightened during the pandemic, its trickle-down impact on education access and attainment outcomes is starkly evident.
The session will primarily focus on disadvantaged communities in pockets of deprivation – students from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds in areas that are lagging in providing accessible opportunities for assimilation into employment; communities especially facing marginalisation and exclusion. The panel will try to identify why some groups of students are left unaddressed as schools tackle these challenges and the impact of this on employment; prevalent factors that result in high absenteeism, high student dropout rates, students becoming NEET and facing barriers in (re)entry to the labour force.
Looking at lags in infrastructural and service provision, an understanding will be gained as of why certain communities are left behind, who has access to education, and how these prevalent issues can help reform public services to reduce educational inequalities. Since good employment is one of the strongest drivers of social mobility, particularly for individuals from marginalised communities, it is important to allocate this opportunity justly, with education forming its building blocks.
The Big Ask – Children’s Commissioner, September 2021
In March 2021, The Children’s Commissioner launched The Big Ask – a national survey questioning children in England on their views across a range of factors including well-being, family, education, community and work. The responses were particularly salient given the ongoing health crisis and the ways it was changing and shaping their lives. There were evident differences in the responses recorded by those with SEND and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Key Findings of the survey revealed that over half of 9-17 year olds said that having a good education was one of their top future priorities with the number being higher among children from most deprived areas and those from ethnic minority backgrounds (57% of whom said this compared to 49% from affluent areas). Many vulnerable groups were also more likely to say this, for example, 58% of children with SEND and receiving g pupil premium, and 58% of young carers. It was also noted that children living in deprived areas and in schools rated inadequate by Ofsted were more likely to be unhappy at school.
Nearly 69% of 9-17 year olds said that having a good job or career was one of the main priorities when they grow up which the number being even higher among children from ethnic minority and deprived background. (specifically 75% Asian and 76% black children compared to 68% of white children). This was also the top future aspiration among children with SEND, children in care and young carers.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Alternate Provision Improvement Plan 2023
Following the scrapping of the Schools Bill and the delay in SEND Review in 2022, the Government launched the SEND and AP Improvement Plan called ‘Right Support, Right Place, Right Time’ in March 2023. The plan aimed to improve outcomes for young people, improve experiences for families and deliver financial sustainability while considering specific issue facing the alternate provision sector. Some of the tangible steps laid down by the Government were as follows:
- A national system underpinned by national standards which engages education, health and care by including views from parents, carers, children, strategic leaders and frontline professionals, local authorities and cross– government civil servants to bring in expertise across a broad range of needs and in specific settings.
- Invest £2.6 billion between 2022 to 2025 to fund new places and improve existing provision.
- Review social care legislation related to disabled children to improve clarity that families have on the support they are legally entitled to.
- Work with stakeholders to deliver a standard EHCP template, with supporting process and guidance from 2025
- Putting systems in place for successful transitions and preparations for adulthood and developing a skilled workforce.
Curia’s Levelling Up Commission
Through roundtable meetings with MPs and senior leaders of local and regional government from across the UK, quantitative data analysis and regional sprints, the Commission intends to set out a series of recommendations to consider how regional inequalities can be reduced from the perspective of public services in four key areas:
- Health and Social Care
- Housing and Homelessness
- Education, Skills and Training
- Crime, Justice and Rehabilitation
Join the Education Skills and Training session here:
If you are interested in working with the Levelling Up Commission, please reach out to our policy lead Shivani Sen at firstname.lastname@example.org