The next steps for improving social mobility and raising educational attainment in England in the wake of COVID-19
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This conference will focus on the next steps for improving social mobility and raising educational attainment in England - including priorities following the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the pandemic having posed significant challenges to the UK economy - as well as its potential impact on educational attainment while schools were closed - the conference will be a timely opportunity to assess the current state of social mobility in England, as well as exploring approaches to improving social mobility in the wake of the pandemic.
Keynote speakers will include Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, Department for Education - as well as Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Education Endowment and a senior speaker confirmed from the Social Mobility Commission, and well as contributions from the Academies Enterprise Trust; the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance; Beechview Academy and Marlow Education Trust; the London School of Economics and Political Science; the National Foundation for Educational Research; Southmoor Academy; The Tutor Trust; Tech London Advocates; and upReach.
Developments that are relevant to the discussion:
• DfE’s announcement of a National Tutoring Programme to help primary and secondary students get up to speed with their studies after losing out on study time during the lockdown, as well as:
• The recently published Plan for Jobs with measures to support young people into the labour market in the wake of the pandemic, including:
◦ a Job Retention Bonus whereby UK employers are to receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee still employed at the end of January 2021
◦ the £2bn Kickstart Scheme to help create jobs for 16-24 year olds with funding covering the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week and with employers being able to top the wage up
◦ £1.6bn to go towards scaling up employment support schemes, traineeships and apprenticeships to help support the labour market
• The Universities Minister recently questioning the use of higher education in promoting social mobility and calling for a new approach that puts the needs of students first, irrespective of whether they embark on a further education course, higher education or start an apprenticeship.
• The recent report published by the Social Mobility Commission evaluating the Government’s response to key social mobility recommendations put forth by the Commission between 2013 and 2020
• The Opportunity Areas programme having been extended to run until August 2021.
• Social mobility in England - the current state of play and future priorities
• The impact of COVID-19 on educational attainment, and priorities for recovery - tackling disadvantage in early years, student engagement in lockdown, regional inequalities, and support for teachers
• The National Tutoring Programme - progress so far
• An international perspective on social mobility
• Raising social mobility in the wake of COVID-19 - post-16 case-studies in routes to employment:
◦ The COVID-19 generation - the outlook for young people in the post-pandemic economy
◦ Supporting disadvantaged graduates into the labour market
◦ Making social mobility work for BAME communities
◦ Closing the digital divide - providing disadvantaged groups with the digital skills needed for the workplace
◦ Delivering effective and relevant careers advice
• Improving social mobility following the pandemic - policy priorities.
Key areas for discussion:
The current state of social mobility in England and key reports
• approaches to improving social mobility in the wake of the pandemic, in the context of the impact of COVID-19 on the UK economy and on educational attainment with schools being closed
• recommendations in the Social Mobility Commission monitoring report, including:
◦ a dedicated Social Mobility Unit to be set up in central government to consider the socio-economic impact of policy being formed in Whitehall
◦ a call for a clear, co-ordinated strategy for supporting the early years sector that ensures early years staff receive appropriate pay
• progress of the Opportunity Areas programme in fulfilling its aims of developing the knowledge and skills of young people in the 12 identified areas of greatest need, and whether the programme offers value for money and how its effectiveness can be measured.
Improving educational attainment following the pandemic
• what has been learned that can be taken forward from challenges that the pandemic and lockdown have posed to the educational attainment of students across England, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds
• assessing measures that the Government has put in place to support children in catching up following the pandemic, including:
◦ funding for state schools, with headteachers deciding how the money each school is allocated is spent
◦ a tutoring scheme aimed at the most disadvantaged children
• Early years:
◦ addressing concerns voiced by some in the early years sector that the Government’s package does not include specific measures of support for early years
◦ how early years settings can work with children to ensure that their long term learning and development is not affected
• how Sixth Forms and colleges can ensure that the 16-19 attainment gap does not widen - with further education also not included in the Government’s initial announcement.
Tackling the digital divide
• the impact of digital exclusion on social mobility and educational attainment, and priorities and practical ways forward for ensuring aiding disadvantaged groups in developing digital skills needed for them to succeed in today’s economy and into the future - including assessing Government initiatives such the EdTech Strategy
• measures put in place by Government to support students learning through lockdown and in the event of the need for blended learning in the autumn, including:
◦ the DfE’s scheme of providing free laptops for disadvantaged students to help improve the accessibility of remote learning during the lockdown
◦ establishment of the Oak National Academy initiative aiming to provide learning material for remote learning across all year groups
◦ launch of The Skills Toolkit by DfE to help young people develop the skills that will aid them in entering the labour market as well as improve social mobility.
Implementing the National Tutoring Programme
The extent to which the National Tutoring Programme - which will see schools funded to hire private tutors - is helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds to get up to speed when returning to school, including:
• lessons that can be learnt from the first term of its implementation
• early signs of progress in mitigating the widening of the attainment gap as a result of the pandemic, and the effectiveness of remote learning in helping prevent the widening of the gap
• how to make the tutoring programme work effectively - including:
◦ best practice for good tutoring
◦ how classroom teachers can support the process
◦ the relationship between the class teacher and the tutor
◦ how tutoring can be implemented to target students’ specific needs.
There will be a keynote contribution from Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive Officer of the Education Endowment Foundation - which has partnered with the Government in designing the Programme.
Post-COVID-19 - supporting young people into the labour market
• priorities for policy and stakeholder action to support young people into a challenging labour market, including ensuring particular groups such as people from BAME communities receive effective careers advice during this time
• the future role of apprenticeships in improving social mobility, with recent research indicating that:
◦ fewer than 40% of apprenticeships have continued as normal during the COVID-19 lockdown
◦ disadvantaged apprentices - with many in sectors such as hospitality and retail that have been hit hard by the pandemic - are expected to be at a greater risk from the economic decline
◦ a 36% decline in apprenticeship starts from people from disadvantaged backgrounds following the introduction of the 2017 Apprenticeship Levy, compared to a 23% drop for others
• the impact and implementation of the Plan for Jobs and next steps for supporting more young people into employment
• the future role of universities in moving forward social mobility in light of the rethink signalled by the universities minister.
Policy officials attending:
These forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education; the Ministry of Justice; and HMRC.
This is a full-scale conference taking place online:
• full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
• information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
• conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
• speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
• opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
• a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
• delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
• networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact.
Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference.