Posted: 14 Sep. 2020 10 min. read

Taking on educational inequality with Teach First

As temperatures begin to cool, leaves start piling up along pavements, and our final bank holiday before Christmas has come and gone, we all know what time of year it is…back to school! However, back to school this year, like much of our lives, looks different. 

It’s no secret COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for nearly all areas of our daily lives. Education (as parents will know all too well) has been no exception. School closures saw pupils, teachers and parents have to adapt to a very new way of learning with much uncertainty over whether students would be able to access the curriculum or stay on track while learning remotely.

Remote challenges

While there’s  no doubt the situation has been tough for everyone, recent data from our education partner Teach First has shown that the interruption to learning caused by the impact of COVID-19 on society, has had the largest negative impact on the most disadvantaged students – children coming from underprivileged backgrounds and low income communities. These children often live in conditions that make home schooling difficult, including limited access to computers and reliable internet – both essential for remote learning.

The challenges presented by COVID-19 have intensified an already-existing problem within the UK education system: educational disadvantage. 

Mind the (attainment) gap

COVID-19 may have exacerbated educational inequality recently but sadly inequality is far from new and remains pervasive in many people’s lives.

On average, disadvantaged pupils in the UK are 4.3 months behind their peers in their early years.

In 2019, just 45% of disadvantaged pupils achieved a standard pass in GCSE English and maths, compared with 72% of non-disadvantaged pupils.

Young people from poorer backgrounds are less likely to go to university than their richer peers, and even among those who do, they are less likely to attend the highest status institutions, less likely to graduate, and less likely to achieve the highest degree classes.

Graduates from poorer families go on to earn less than peers from wealthier backgrounds, while graduates from affluent families are more likely to obtain a professional job and see higher earnings.

The role of schools

The role of schools in addressing this disadvantage is crucial. Schools serving low income communities have more complex needs than their affluent counterparts, including problems with teacher retention and low parental participation. Disadvantaged children are more likely to attend schools that simply don’t have the resources to meet these demands.

These pupils are also more likely to experience lower quality teaching than those in wealthier areas as their teachers, on average, have less experience and are more likely to lack a degree in the relevant subject. On top of this, teachers face pressures of additional demands, including providing emotional support and more one-on-one time with children facing barriers to learning at home.

Educational inequality is a complex issue, but it’s also an important one as education is key to empowering the futures of young people.

With so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s where our education partner Teach First comes in.

Building a fair education for all with Teach First

Teach First is an education charity on a mission to build a fair education for all, believing that an excellent education is the best pathway to ensure that every young person can fulfil their potential. The organisation is dedicated to closing the attainment gap, giving all young people access to excellent education by developing great teachers and leaders who are determined to make a difference where it’s needed the most.

Deloitte and Teach First partnership

As a firm, Deloitte shares Teach First’s belief that where you’re from shouldn’t affect where you’re going. This is one of the drivers behind the WorldClass commitment to overcome inequality and empower individuals in the future. Deloitte has worked with Teach First for the past 15 years, supporting their work across the UK. Through the One Million Futures schools programme, funding for leadership programmes, and other strategic support, the firm is committed to helping Teach First tackle inequality in education.

Over the course of lockdown, Deloitte supported the training of 11 new teachers through their Teach First Time to Teach training programme, designed to develop and support corporate career changers into teaching, who will now be starting in classrooms this autumn. Our funding has supported 90 teachers to take National Professional Qualifications, supporting their journey to school leadership, and in turn impacting 67,500 students.  And in case you missed it, check out how we supported Russell, the CEO of Teach First, as he stepped into his new role.

For a closer look at the partnership between Deloitte and Teach First, meet Vidhu, Director of Fundraising at Teach First, who speaks about the challenges facing schools and students and highlights the ways in which the partnership is supporting strong and sustainable school leadership and works to impact the lives of young people.

With recent studies showing the attainment gap is far from overcome, Teach First’s work is all the more essential. Deloitte is proud to partner with such an inspiring organisation to make an impact that truly matters.

For more on the specific challenges facing schools in the current climate be sure to read the latest Teach First report.

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