Teach First calls on new government to tackle inequality in education

Theresa May must address disadvantage in schools to 'build a better Britain', charity says

Eleanor Busby

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The new government needs to urgently prioritise educational inequality and place it at the centre of its agenda to "build a better Britain", according to Teach First.

The charity is warning today that thousands of young people could lose out and become disenfranchised if prime minister Theresa May fails to focus her attention on improving education in disadvantaged areas of the country.

In her first speech as PM, Ms May said that she would work to "build a better Britain" and highlighted the fact pupils who attended state schools were less likely to reach the top professions.

As the charity’s Impact Conference begins in Leeds today, Brett Wigdortz, founder and chief executive of Teach First, has called for greater investment to prevent young people being left behind. 

The two-day conference, in partnership with TES, will bring together 4,000 teachers, policymakers and business leaders, making it Europe’s largest conference focused on tackling educational inequality.

'Slow-burning injustice'

Ahead of the conference, Mr Wigdortz said: "Educational inequality is a slow-burning injustice that goes unnoticed but threatens the very fabric and foundations of a fair society.

"The fact that a child from a poorer background is less likely to succeed at school and life is totally at odds with a British sense of fair play. We need to invest in the communities and young people that have been left behind if we are to build a better Britain."

The calls comes as Teach First sends its 10,000th participant to teach in schools in low-income communities this year. 

The charity is also increasing its presence in coastal towns and areas where education and social inequality remains a persistent challenge. 

Mr Wigdortz added: "We know we now need to increase our focus on areas left behind, and I’m pleased we’re growing our presence in communities facing the greatest educational challenge."

A Government spokesperson said: "This government is focused on making Britain a country that works for everyone. We are determined that every child, regardless of background, gender or ability, has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.

“We are expanding Teach First to attract more top graduates into teaching in some of the most challenging parts of the country. We are also targeting those areas with entrenched under-performance, using the expertise of experienced teachers and heads from outstanding schools to help push up academic standards in those areas.

"The pupil premium, now worth £2.5 billion a year, is being spent to improve the education provided to children from the poorest backgrounds.”

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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