Education Secretary Justine Greening has written a piece for the Telegraph celebrating the work of educational establishments striving to drive social mobility and her plans to end selection by house price.
This Government wants to create a country that works for everyone, and education is at the heart of that. Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers there are almost 1.8 million more children now being taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.
Tonight, staff from some of our fantastic schools and universities across the country will be gathering in Downing Street for a reception to celebrate some of the vital work which is being done to drive social mobility, both within their own institutions and by working with others in the local area. This event gives Ministers the chance to say thank you for their valuable contributions to the consultation on our plans to create more good school places, but more importantly for the exceptional work they do day-in, day-out, to help all young people to unlock their potential.
As Education Secretary I’ve had the privilege seeing for myself the work of a number of these great schools in practice. Take Exeter Mathematics School, which I visited earlier this month. Along with King’s College London Maths School, Exeter is pioneering the specialist maths school model, which offers an advanced maths curriculum to stretch the most able pupils. Like King’s, Exeter is a school that enables talented maths A level students to focus and excel in a subject they love. It was inspiring to see.
While both Exeter and King’s have stretching entry requirements, they are determined to nurture talent from across the regions they serve. How do they do this? Through a combination of outreach work and prioritising young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in their admissions. They see it as part of their mission to bring a first class maths education, with all the opportunities that provides, to children who might not otherwise benefit.
These schools are not alone in their outward-facing attitude. Wallington County Grammar School, for example, prioritises access for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and provides targeted support to pupils eligible for the pupil premium. Another example is the Tauheedul Education Trust, a high-performing multi-academy trust of 15 Muslim schools and four non-faith schools. Not only does it have a track-record for providing an excellent education for its young people, irrespective of faith or background, it is also highly collaborative. Its schools work together in partnerships in local clusters, allowing them to share expertise and best practice and provide a range of experiences for their pupils.
The challenge is that these sorts of examples are not as widespread as they should be. New analysis suggests houses near high performing schools are up to £19,000 more expensive – fuelling concern that less-wealthy families are being unfairly priced out of sending their children to the best schools.
That’s why our consultation, Schools that Work for Everyone, asked how we could get even more from our universities, independent schools, faith schools and grammars, which we know can do a huge amount for disadvantaged pupils, virtually eliminating the attainment gap between children on free school meals and their better off classmates. We want to use that expertise to drive up standards across the country so every child regardless of background can access a good school place.
With such talent behind us, I am confident we can lift up even more of our young people, wherever they are growing up, for the benefit of the whole country.