Friday Five: Sure Start, housing, school buildings, work experience, funding


12th April 2024

1. New IFS study on the impact of Sure Start finds large benefits

A new study of the short- and medium-term impacts of Sure Start has found huge benefits associated with the programme. As the early years policy landscape shifts again towards integrated and holistic early years support, renewed interest has been placed on the learnings from one of New Labour’s flagship programmes. This latest piece of research from IFS is overwhelmingly positive, finding that:

  • Access to a Sure Start centre between the ages of 0 and 5 significantly improved the educational outcomes of children, including at GCSE level.
  • Sure Start disproportionately benefited children from the poorest backgrounds and children from ethnic minorities. Effects for GCSE-aged children eligible for free school meals were six times higher than their non-FSM counterparts.
  • Sure Start centres were effective at both recognising and recording children’s special educational need or disabilities (SEND) and, through targeted support, reducing the scale of interventions needed for SEND children.

The full report is here.

2. NEU survey finds learning impaired by poor school buildings across the country

Over half of teachers believe issues with school buildings are negatively impacting students’ learning, a new survey by the National Education Union has found. Problems include leaks, overheating, cold classrooms, mould, and damp. The survey highlighted severe issues like asbestos exposure, heating and meal disruptions, and repair delays. Despite estimates indicating 700,000 pupils learn in buildings that need major repairs, and recommendations for increased funding, allocations remain insufficient: the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) funding for smaller trusts is decreasing annually, while the School Rebuilding Programme (SRP) only impacts a limited number of schools. The Department for Education (DfE) has reported spending £1.8 billion this year for maintenance, totaling £17 billion since 2015. 

Read the full article here

3. Resolution Foundation research highlights growing renting costs for families

New research by the Resolution Foundation offers a fresh reminder of the scale of the housing crisis for families across the country. The research found that rental price growth has largely been driven by earnings growth and a post-pandemic re-adjustment, and not from an ‘exodus’ of landlords from the private rental sector. Other key findings were that almost 30% of below average income families headed by someone aged 30-49 were renters in 2021-22, up from just 11% in the mid-1990s, and that rents are rising at their fastest rates on record, growing by 9% over the year to February 2024. The report calls for the Government to ensure that the Local Housing Allowance keeps pace with rents.

The full report is here.

4. Work experience disparities affecting state school students’ access to higher education

Disparities in work experience and extracurricular opportunities fuel inequities in access to Russell Group universities for state school students, a new report by Speakers for Schools has argued. Applicants from affluent areas of the UK are nearly six times more likely to have an offer from a Russell Group universities than those living in a disadvantaged area. On at least a third of occasions, evidence of work experience and enrichment activities is used to assess university applications, providing a key access barrier as half of state-school students leave secondary school without having completed any work experience.

The report underscores the importance of addressing this double disadvantage and calls for universally funded work experience for state school students. It also urges Russell Group universities to be transparent about the value of such experiences in admissions and to reach out to schools in disadvantaged areas to inspire talented students.

At CfEY, we have previously advocated for restructuring work experience to make it more effective. Currently, we are working with the Social Mobility Foundation to investigate how partnerships between schools and social enterprises/third-sector organisations can be used to bring work experience opportunities to ‘cold spot’ areas where there are high concentrations of disadvantaged young people lacking access to internship opportunities.

Read the full report here

5. EPI’s School Funding Model examines the impact of falling school funding

The first report published by the Education Policy Institute using its new school funding model to analyse the impact of funding policy decisions, has revealed the significant impact of falling funding on schools across the country. Key findings are that:

  • Due to falling pupil numbers in state-funded primary and secondary schools over the next five years, even if per-pupil funding is increased by 0.5% each year, overall school funding will have decreased by over £1 billion by 2030.
  • The North East will experience a 9% decrease in primary funding by 2030, making it the region with the largest decrease in funding in the country. The East of England will see the smallest decrease, with just a 1.2% drop.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East, and London are the only regions that will not see an increase in funding at secondary school level by 2030.

The full report is here.

That’s all for this week! If you found this blog useful, please be sure to share/tweet it and follow @theCfEY, @Barristotle, and @conorcarleton for future editions.