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Sir Paul Edwards and Lord Adonis unite to improve the life chances of pupils on Free School Meals

Teaching Leaders led an event on practical ways to close the gap.  Lord Andrew Adonis – the Former Schools Minister provided a keynote followed by Sir Paul Edwards, CEO of the School Partnership Trust in Yorkshire. Sir Paul emphasised the importance of tailoring the curriculum to each child’s needs: “The education system is changing. But let’s use these changes as an opportunity to establish a new system that supports the talent of each child by personalising it to their needs…”

Lord Adonis and Sir Paul Edwards unite to improve the life chances of pupils on Free School Meals

Last year 34% of pupils on free school meals (FSM) achieved five good GCSEs, compared to the 62% who are not.* Alan Milburn’s review of social mobility in the UK has put this issue high on the Government agenda and last week Teaching Leaders, the national middle leadership education charity, led a discussion on practical ways to close this gap.  Lord Andrew Adonis – the Former Schools Minister led the way with a keynote address, opening the subject up to a panel of education experts which included Sir Paul Edwards, Yorkshire based CEO of the School Partnership Trust.

Teaching Leaders is a National College supported education charity developed in partnership with Teach First and Future Leaders. They are growing a movement of outstanding middle leaders (i.e. heads of department or year) who measurably improve student results in schools working in challenging contexts across the country. This year is their first year working in Yorkshire and they are already working with 17 schools across the region.

Lord Andrew Adonis kicked started the event by delivering a keynote speech to the 80 headteachers and senior leaders from across the North of England. He commented, “There is no more important challenge in education today than closing the achievement gap between students from disadvantaged and affluent families. Every child deserves the best start in life and education plays a critical role in providing this. I congratulate Teaching Leaders in making the issue a key priority for the next generation of school leaders.”

Sir Paul Edwards emphasised the importance of tailoring the curriculum to each child’s needs. He explained: “It falls to us as leaders to take responsibility for closing the gap. The education system is changing. But let’s use these changes as an opportunity to act as revolutionaries in establishing a new system that works and to support the talent of each child by personalising it to their needs.”

The panel of education experts also included Julia Tinsley, Headteacher at Holly Lodge Girls’ College. The panel also emphasised the importance of establishing a strong culture, vision and set of values for a school and that this is central to closing the achievement gap. 

James Toop, their Chief Executive, who chaired the panel and audience discussion reflected on the event: “Closing the achievement gap is at the heart of our mission. It was inspiring to see such a large group of Headteachers from across the region discussing how to address the central challenge of increasing equity in our education system.  Today will start conversations and ideas which they will take back and implement in school tomorrow.”

For more information contact Kathryn Humphreys on 0161 242 1183 or Kathryn.humphreys@teachingleaders.org.uk

Notes to Editors

*SourceSave the Children: Closing the achievement gap in England’s secondary schools – report

Photo caption: The Teaching Leaders Event panel for Breakfast discussion on ‘closing the achievement gap’. From left to right: Lord Andrew Adonis (Former Schools Minister), Sir Paul Edwards (CEO of School Partnership Trust), James Toop (CEO of Teaching Leaders) and Julia Tinsley (Headteacher of Holy Lodge Girls’ College).

Teaching Leaders is a national charity addressing educational disadvantage through middle leaders. We were developed in 2008 in partnership with four of the UK’s most forward-thinking educational organisations: ARK, the National College, Teach First and Future Leaders. In just five years we have grown to 500 fellows and alumni from over 240 schools nationally.

We work with secondary schools from deprived areas who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The school has more than 50% of pupils living in the lowest 30% of the IDACI
  • The school has 15% or more pupils in receipt of free school meals (FSM)
  • The school’s GCSE attainment is below 40% (5 A*-C incl. English and mathematics)

Middle leaders in schools include:

  • Head of Faculty or Year (i.e. Head of English, Head of Music, Head of Year 8)
  • Subject Leaders (i.e. Subject Leader of Maths)
  • 2ic of English, Science or Maths (i.e. Head of KS3 Maths)
  • Whole school or Pastoral roles( i.e. Head of Gifted and Talented, Head of whole school literacy, Head of Special Educational Needs)

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