ASCL comment on IFS report on inequalities within education system

Pepe Di’Iasio, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), which warns that the next government will face major challenges around education inequalities.
“As this report makes clear, the need for investment in closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has never been more apparent. Despite the best efforts of schools, they are fighting against deeply ingrained social inequalities in our country which have been exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis. Children are not in a fit state to learn when they are cold, hungry and live in inadequate housing, or where special educational needs are not met because the system is overwhelmed and underfunded; or where access to essential social care and mental health support services for children has been decimated. The next government cannot continue to allow these gaps in our society to continue to hamper the life chances of millions of children.
“As an immediate first step it must extend free school meals to all families in receipt of Universal Credit, invest in children’s services including mental health support, and improve the level and distribution of school funding to properly reflect the different levels of disadvantage across the country. Above all else, any incoming government must commit to ending the appalling rates of child poverty in the UK and ensuring all pupils have the opportunity to thrive at school and in later life