What would you do if you unexpectedly found £20 curled up in your back pocket? Treat yourself to a takeaway? Stick it all on Costa Rica to win the World Cup? Decide that you can afford that subscription to catch up with Game of Thrones after all?
There is far more value to be found in education. Achievement for All (AfA), an education charity that works with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England and Wales, says its programme for schools costs just £20 per child, and a new independent report shows that this modest investment yields impressive results.
AfA has worked with 2,217 primary and secondary schools since it began as a pilot project in 2009, focusing on children with special educational needs or disabilities and those from low-income families. Research by PwC over the past 12 months shows that the programme has seen a significant improvement in pupils’ behaviour and attendance, as well as better results in reading, writing and maths.
The charity aims to raise children's ambitions, providing "achievement coaches" who help devise a tailored set of activities. These cover professional development, reviews of teaching practice, extra-curricular clubs and improving dialogue between schools and parents.
Some 80 per cent of parents agreed or strongly agreed that their child was doing well at school following AfA involvement, compared with 40 per cent before AfA assistance. Crucially, parents have become more involved in their child’s education: 84 per cent said they were now being given tasks to support their child’s learning, compared with 53 per cent previously.
The report finds that 92 per cent of teachers believe that the programme represents value for money, and the authors’ dispassionate assessment of financial benefits is startling: the potential savings to society of fewer exclusions amount to nearly £15 million annually, while the value of allocating teachers’ time more effectively as a result of the programme comes to about £2 million.
“What this shows is lives really are being changed, but I know, from being out there, that so much more still needs to be done to ensure that every child is enabled to learn, thrive and succeed,” said AfA chief executive Sonia Blandford.
A full breakdown of the report’s data will be presented at AfA’s national conference on 7 October at the Southbank Centre in London.