Unfortunately, educational inequality remains a persistent problem in our system. Despite almost a decade of the pupil premium, the national attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their wealthier peers has failed to close.
And it’s not only disadvantaged students who underperform: a variety of contextual factors continue to have a profound effect on students’ chances of success, including geography, ethnicity, gender, and physical and mental health and wellbeing.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We know that across the SSAT network, many of you are doing wonderful things to close the ‘gaps’ between students. We use ‘gaps’ in the plural – because it’s about equality and social justice for all young people, across a range of metrics, not just end-of-key-stage achievement. How do we give parity of opportunity to all our students, and ensure that no one is left behind?
School-led workshops in this theme will cover topics such as: raising boys’ attainment; a personalised and growth-mindset approach for every child; mental health in schools; reaching the ‘unreachable’; and new approaches to most-able provision.
On the main stage, the former HE minister MP David Lammy will consider the possibilities if it didn’t matter where you come from. David has been vocal in his criticism of the failure of higher education, especially Oxford and Cambridge, to do more to attract, recruit and retain under-represented students. But he will talk about the wider social justice agenda, looking at links across society.
SSAT is a proud member of the Fair Education Alliance, and we encourage all schools to engage with this powerful campaign of educationalists and businesses. We do not believe that educational disadvantage should be tolerated in 2018. But we also know that schools cannot tackle all the roots of this, or indeed all societal ills, on their own. It is only by coming together as industry, schools and policymakers that we will be able to finally make this imagined possibility a reality; and we hope that the conference in December will be one step towards this vision.
View the latest programme, read speaker profiles and book at www.ssatuk.co.uk/nc18.
SSAT Secondary Network members have a free two-day pass to the conference as part of their membership and also have the opportunity to bring their School Business Manager for free on Wednesday for a dedicated programme. Discounted passes are available to all other SSAT members.