A government-backed initiative to raise the educational attainment and aspirations of young people in South Yorkshire was launched last week.
South Yorkshire Futures, a social mobility project led by Sheffield Hallam University, will support disadvantaged young people in the region from early years as far as further and higher education, in an effort to close the attainment gap and better life chances.
The project will focus on preparation, performance and aspirations of pupils in local schools, with a strong focus on finding ways to increase teacher recruitment and retention in the region.
South Yorkshire Futures has already received support from the government for its plans for the opportunity area, with the project’s director, Greg Burke, on secondment from the DfE.
“What we’re trying to create is a spirit of optimism,” Burke explained. “We’ve got lots of data that says South Yorkshire doesn’t perform very well on educational stuff, and it’s trying to get people to come together and say actually, we can do something about this.
“We’ve identified a significant area where we can add value in teacher recruitment and retention. South Yorkshire is a major supplier of the teacher workforce. We’ve been developing a partnership with the University of Sheffield and three school-centred ITT providers to develop a collaborative approach to marketing and recruitment.”
Research from the Sutton Trust in 2015 revealed that of the 14 South Yorkshire constituencies, 10 had very low or low social mobility, and pupils in the region are less likely to achieve good GCSEs and remain in education than their peers in other parts of the country.
To tackle the problem, part of the project will involve looking at schools who don’t get involved in external initiatives, and analysing why and how that can be changed.
“We’re particularly interested in engaging with schools who don’t get involved in things like initial teacher training,” he said. “We want to work out why they’re not involved and what would be the things that might enable them to get involved.”
The initiative is currently open to all schools in South Yorkshire. Interested schools can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Main image: Minister for Children and Families, Robert Goodwill, left, with Professor Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University at the South Yorkshire Futures launch