The 6 key policy recommendations from the Social Market Foundation’s inequality study

The Social Market Foundation has today published the results of its Commission on Inequality in Education.

You can read the full story on the report by the commission, chaired by Nick Clegg, here. Below are the six key policy recommendations:


1. Make schools publish staff turnover rates

Regional schools commissioners could then work with schools failing to retain early career teachers by brokering support from schools that do a better job. Publishing the data would also allow NQTs to decide where to take a job and would give schools “a strong incentive” to improve their retention rates. However, the report notes turnover is not always bad and might have normal reasons.

2. Experience a tough school before becoming a head

A condition of gaining the National Professional Qualification of Headship should be spending time in middle leadership at a challenging school in a poorer area, which “would encourage experienced and aspiring school leaders to spend time in disadvantaged schools”. It should become “the norm” that teachers will work in a school in a disadvantaged area as part of their career development.

3. Give housing help to teachers

Schools with high levels of pupils from low-income families should be able to bid for a fund that could help teachers buy or rent a home, such as towards their deposit or a rent subsidy. It should be run as a pilot in a few local authorities first, with a budget of £12 million, which would allow for 20-per-cent equity loans on the average house in England for about 250 young teachers.

4. Put parents on after-school literacy programmes

The government should launch a programme of after-school family literacy classes in primary schools with above-average proportions of free school meal pupils. A three-year-study by the Nuffield Foundation found family literacy programmes have a positive effect on key stage 1 reading scores, as well as parents reading more with their children. The funding for these classes should be ring-fenced within the Skills Funding Agency budget.

5. Sign homework agreements with parents

Teachers and parents should sign homework contracts at the start of each year. In them, teachers promise to set high-quality homework and support parents in helping their children, while parents promise to make sure homework is done. The headteacher must lead on this as young inexperienced teachers might find it hard to tell older parents they need to make sure homework is done.

6. Private schools must publish their community “value” and tax breaks

Independent schools should have to provide out-of-school activities to all pupils who live locally if they want to keep their charitable tax status. This should also be published as information on their “public benefit” value – the value of the teaching support, available sports facilities and extracurricular activities to pupils in the state-maintained sector. This information should be published alongside an estimate of the monetary value of tax reliefs a school enjoys.

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