A round-up of news and opinion from the education sector. Want to comment? Don't be shy – we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at or Tweet us @AfA_Education. Alternatively send us a post on Facebook @AfAEducation

Music A Level for All?

10th August 2021, A level result day, with just 5,039 Advanced Level music candidates among 696,000 entries in total successfully completing one of the most complex subjects taught at Key Stage 5 (less than 1%). This represents another year of the decline in a subject that should be increasing in number.

Time for a New Conversation: Mutuality

The recent Education Select Committee’s report The forgotten: how White working-class pupils have been let down, and how to change it[1] highlights how White British pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) persistently underperform compared with their peers in other ethnic groups, from the early years through to higher education. We need to ask - Why have the many funded initiatives aimed at addressing the above failed to have sustained, national impact? Time for a New Conversation: Mutuality

What is the moral purpose of education research?

Unlike the moral purpose of education the moral purpose of education research is rarely debated. This blog brings together the views of leading education researchers, practitioners and the British Educational Research Association culminating in a shared perspective that the moral purpose of research is rooted in improving and understanding education for all.

COVID-19 Blogs

‘Strange, challenging, unprecedented’ are words that have been used to describe the period since COVID-19 has impacted on all of our lives. Difficult enough to understand if you live in a secure family home with no prior needs or experience of disadvantage.

David Gandy, Achievement for All Ambassador

Charities and children need the support of role models. David provides such support for Achievement for All. We are pleased to announce that David Gandy has teamed up with @cookalongtv to increase our profile and to raise some money our charity. We hope that you will enjoy the event, and that you will also contribute to increasing our support for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people in our communities just as David has continued to support those from his hometown and beyond.

How do we understand and improve behaviour in our schools?

Behaviour in schools is a hot topic at both policy and practice level at the moment. The evidence and theories that underpin your behaviour policy and how well all staff are supported to understand and implement it is key to building a cohesive, productive learning environment. Anne Cameron from Achievement for All outlines current thinking and how we are supporting schools to take an evidence based approach.

Biscuits or Banquets? – Beyond the World of Phonics

Teaching reading is high priority in all primary schools so why are some children leaving school not able to read well? ‘Biscuits or Banquets’ explores why some children do really well, but the teaching reading of using phonics alone is not enough for the most disadvantaged children in your setting.

Social Mobility: Chance or Choice?

Social Mobility: Chance or Choice?, a sequel to `Born to Fail? Social Mobility, a Working Class View' (October 2017), sets out the current chances and choices available for those considered by the establishment to need social mobility. Revisiting mutuality, Sonia Blandford asks whether we care enough as a society by considering the issues, solutions and impact to the education and social issues that push against the chance or choice of social mobility.

Supporting Parents to feed their children’s Hungry little Minds

The Hungry Little Minds initiative is here! Our Early Years Lead Maureen Hunt examines the role early years settings play in developing active learning partnerships with all parents and carers, so they develop the confidence needed to support their children to learn and develop.

Maths as a driver for social mobility?

Dr Catherine Knowles from Achievement for All looks at whether we should be focussing more on building the core in children and young people through the development of basic maths skills

Reading together: why does it matter?

Susan Soar from The Fostering Network looks at some of the research evidence around the benefits of adults and children reading together and explores three popular children’s books

Why all parents and carers matter

CEO, Professor Sonia Blandford looks at the assumptions that working class people are destined to fail and that today, we find ourselves in a place in time where there can be a new way of thinking, recognising what hasn't worked and what isn't working. A time where change can happen and social mobility can be improved

An angry or anxious mind will not learn

Mental health is the current crippling disease, increasingly prevalent among the young. Our CEO, Professor Sonia Blandford looks at what teachers should be doing to help children and young people and how Achievement for All can help schools and settings across the nation

Saving our lost boys

Catherine Knowles recalls an enlightening conversation with a retired teacher on the progress of a young boy and a young girl, the attainment gap and the differences in academic outcomes come secondary school

Inspiring children to be readers

Our Early Years Lead, Maureen Hunt, writes a fantastic blog on the importance of reading in early years and how she once changed the perception of reading amongst the children she worked with, from one child saying reading is boring to another proudly announcing he had finished reading a book all by himself!

The power of music making and literacy

200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge partner, Boogie Mites, writes about the synergistic partnership between music, language and literacy and how the power of music and sound games can make reading an enjoyable activity for all involved, developing a love of reading, ready for school.

Growing through libraries

Our CEO, Professor Sonia Blandford looks at two families from two different backgrounds and the important role libraries have to play in social mobility

The Home Learning Environment

Maureen Hunt, Achievement for All Early Years Lead looks at the importance of the home learning environment and the level of support parents/carers offer their child(ren). Is it an engagement lottery? If you happen to have supportive parents or carers who can give you time and encouragement, will you do well and if you don’t, are you destined to underachieve? Maureen explores the training available to help teachers and practitioners develop and encourage learning partnerships with parents/carers

Socially and culturally rich – financially and educationally stuck

Our CEO, Sonia Blandford looks at the impact that a lack of opportunity and choice has on our society

Revealing the hidden troubles and journeys in education

Marc Radley, Strategic Director at CACI Ltd looks at how “system dynamics”, “artificial machine learning” and “optimisation” methods, often used in the risk and financial services industries are particularly useful methods for children's services

Getting inclusive education back on track

James Bowen, Director, NAHT Edge believes that over 10 years ago there was a clear drive from within government, Local Authorities and schools themselves to create a more inclusive education system but feels that the progress made back then is now being put at risk. In this blog James looks at what needs to be done to get back on track and ensure every child is included in education

Social mobility – Why all parents and carers matter

Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO at Achievement for All, explores the importance of parent and carer engagement in social mobility...

Time to talk families and Early Years

Professor Sonia Blandford highlights the need for a structured approach to Early Years policy and practice...

‘The rich man in his castle the poor man at his gate’ – Families and social mobility

Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO at Achievement for All, explores the important role parents and carers have to play in social mobility...

Terrific Twos - Excellent Provision in the Early Years

Theresa Johnson, Development Manager at PACEY, looks at what excellent provision in the early years is and the importance of practitioner training

Does CPD have a positive effect on teacher development?

Jennifer Barker, Head of Participant Impact Design at Teach First looks at a range of research material to determine how affective CPD is in teacher development and the role CPD plays in teacher retention

What is core strength?

Marius Frank, Product Development and e-learning Manager at Achievement for All, looks at what Core Strength is, what it means and how improving children and young people's core strength can unlock achievement and remove barriers to learning.

The new Early Learning Goals – what will they really achieve?

Maureen Hunt, Achievement for All's Early Years Lead, argues that the DfE's Early Learning Goals will not address teacher workload and that to ensure every child meets their potential, targeted support for families is what is needed

Speech, language and communication, how important?

Mary Hartshorne, Head of Evidence at I CAN looks at the importance of developing speech, language and communication skills in children and young people

Successful transitions in early years

Maureen Hunt, Achievement for All's Early Years Lead, looks at what early years settings can do to make the transition to school as easy as possible for all children

Supporting previously looked after children

Anne Cameron, Programme Manager at Achievement for All, reviews Adoption UK's latest statistics and looks into how schools can improve the care they give to previously looked after children

Running away - Children Looked After

Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO at Achievement for All, and Anne Cameron, Programme Manager, comment on recent news about children missing from education and the relevance to Children Looked After.

Every child included in education

Professor Sonia Blandford looks at the importance of collaboration to change our nation’s approach to social mobility and what needs to be done across all educational provision, private, independent and state in supporting and delivering change to ensure that every child is included in education.

Building stronger families with Childminders

Maureen Hunt, Achievement for All's Early Years Lead looks at the role childminder's can play in providing support and advise as well as respite to parents, helping to build stronger families for those with vulnerable and disadvantaged children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities

Inclusive education - Early Years leads the way!

Our Achieving Early Lead, Maureen Hunt, looks at why inclusive education is still a relatively new concept

Engaging children in literacy in a broad spectrum school

Castle Wood School is a broad spectrum primary school where over 70 per cent of the children have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Condition. Many children are non-verbal and communicate through gestures, behaviour, signing and exchanging photographs therefore conventional literacy isn’t appropriate for all. Suzanne Kavanagh from Castle Wood School talks us through what they do to engage their children in literacy

Working together to promote a love of reading

From global stories to book bingo, Rhian Harris, Assistant Headteacher at Hauxton Primary School in Cambridge, shares what they have been doing as part of our 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge

Mindfulness through reading

Julie Pearson and Maureen Taylor, Co-Founders of Mindful Life Journeys look at the pleasant and rewarding release and relaxation simply picking up a book can have on your mind

Reading together: a blast from the past

Russell Hobby, CEO, Teach First reminisces on the books he loved as a child and the importance of reading with your children

Inspiring a generation of lifetime readers

World Book Day marks the launch of our 100 Million Minutes Reading challenge and the start of something big. Professor Sonia Blandford discusses how to inspire a generation of readers

Dyslexia: overcoming the challenges of reading

Great blog from British Dyslexia Association on 'cracking the code' of written language

Using literacy in innovative and creative ways to improve your school

Our Product Development & eLearning Manager, Marius Frank talks about his journey in tripling GCSE results and how using literacy built pupil self-esteem and self confidence

Making children more confident learners

Fiona Griffiths, Saint John’s Reading Lead, told us how they promote a whole school approach to reading and what they do to provide their children with a brighter future by raising the enjoyment of reading.

The importance of our local library

Professor Sonia Blandford looks at the importance of using local libraries to encourage children and young people to read

Closing the gap in reading is everyone's business

Catherine Knowles looks at the Read On. Get On Index and the persistent literacy gap between the lowest and highest performing children across the country

Let's make books central to all early years practice

Our Achieving Early Lead, Maureen Hunt, looks at how to make books central to all early years practice

I think I am happy. Therefore I am happy

Great blog from our CEO, Professor Sonia Blandford on mental health issues across social and economic boundaries and how schools can support their pupils

Born to Fail?

Professor Sonia Blandford delves into why working class children do not achieved why this is not the will to stop the growth of disadvantage among the working class

The New Ofsted Framework

Marius Frank, Achievement for All's Product Development & eLearning Manager, looks at the amends to the new Ofsted Framework