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what role does business have to play in education?

At Teach First we believe that it takes a community to educate a child; that everyone has a role to play in ensuring all children fulfil their potential and lead happy, healthy lives, regardless of their background. Working closely with a host of committed corporate partners, we have seen first-hand the impact that business in particular can have on school improvement and the prospects of young people.

Our own development as a charity started in The City. In 2002 a group of leading businesses called for a study to look into how they could help improve secondary education in London. Authored by our inspirational CEO, Brett Wigdortz, it suggested that the solution lay in great leadership, as effective teachers can raise pupils’ results by at least 40%. Wigdortz left his role at McKinsey to set up a charity focused on tackling educational inequality by recruiting, training and supporting people with exceptional leadership skills to teach in schools in low-income communities in London.

“…there is an economic imperative for changing the trajectories of children from low-income backgrounds”

London is now one of the best places in the world to go to school if you come from a deprived background. Between 2003 and 2011, London schools moved from being the lowest performing in England to the highest performing and now have the highest proportion of schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. A recent study from the CfBT and the Centre for London identified the work Teach First has done in London as one of four key factors in this transformation.

But we know that there is much more work to do. In the UK, where you grow up can still determine your whole future — at GCSE, nearly half of all children claiming free school meals (whose combined family income is less than £16,000) achieve no passes above a D grade. The latest evidence shows that the schools facing the biggest challenges are often in coastal areas or isolated towns, where many vulnerable families lack the opportunities and networks available in urban centres.

“… long-term, transformational partnerships with businesses are fundamental to achieving lasting change”

Not only is this simply unjust, there is an economic imperative for changing the trajectories of children from low-income backgrounds. Studies suggest that raising educational outcomes for poorer children would increase GDP by £6bn a year by 2030. These children are the leaders, innovators and educators of tomorrow.

At Teach First, we believe that long-term, transformational partnerships with businesses are fundamental to achieving lasting change. We work in partnership with more than 40 committed organisations to make a direct and meaningful impact on the lives of young people across England and Wales. Our skills-based corporate volunteering programmes support our teachers’ professional development and open up the world of business to pupils from low-income communities, raising their aspirations and fuelling their achievement.

Every business has a role to play — no matter how big or small, or what sector they’re from — in ensuring that every child can access a brilliant education and achieve a future they choose for themselves, not the one they inherit.

For more information, please contact Liz Alleston


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