“It is a critical time to be working on the frontlines of reducing educational inequality” – Our response to The Education Policy Institute and Nesta report

In their report Education: the fundamentals – Eleven facts about the education system in England, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and Nesta highlight increasing gaps between students from advantaged backgrounds and their less advantaged peers. The report emphasises the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on attainment gaps, widening geographical disparities across the country and a growing skills gap for employers.

The report highlights that poorer pupils in certain areas were more than two years behind peers, with some students on an Education, Health and Care Plan nearly 41 months behind. Due to a skills and qualification gap, the report states that 1 in 10 employers have a vacancy which they are struggling to fill. It is evident that the education sector faces significant challenges over the coming years, during a time of increasingly constrained resources, to support all students to achieve their ambitions and contribute meaningfully to the wider economy.

At The Access Project, we work closely with schools across six regions to support students from less advantaged backgrounds via in-school mentors and online tutors, helping them to achieve their aspirations to attend top universities and raise their attainment.

We prioritise inclusivity across our mentoring and tuition training and set up students for success by building their motivation, knowledge, independence and self-efficacy to access the country’s most selective universities. We train our staff to be confident in supporting increasing numbers of Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) students. As we plan to scale and reach more communities over the coming years, we are increasing our focus on supporting students to develop relevant skills for university and future employment.

Anna Searle, Chief Executive Officer at The Access Project, said: “It is a critical time to be working on the frontlines of reducing educational inequality. As we look ahead to 2024, we support EPI and Nesta’s calls for increased support for students from under-resourced backgrounds and those with particular needs, robust funding for the education system, and sustained and equitable investment in skills and qualifications.”

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