Government’s renewed efforts to improve outcomes for the one in five children and young people who are being failed by the education system welcomed, but charity warns that progress will only be achieved through mutuality where communities feel engaged and not ‘done to’.

Achievement for All, a leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with thousands of early years settings, schools and colleges across England and Wales to improve outcomes for all children and young people vulnerable to underachievement, regardless of their background, challenge or need, has today (14.12.17) responded to the Government’s Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential strategy for improving social mobility through education.

Professor Sonia Blandford, Founder and CEO of Achievement for All and one of the county’s foremost experts on social mobility and social disadvantage, says: “We need to act fast and act now to galvanise society against what is ultimately the greatest social injustice of our time. We welcome the Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential report and the Government’s increased emphasis on ensuring that each and every child has the opportunity to achieve and thrive regardless of their background or circumstances. It is a shocking indictment that our education system is failing one in five children and young people – these individuals are ‘born to fail’ in the current system and this is unacceptable.

“The Government’s plan includes a key focus on targeted action in communities that are being left behind – communities who are facing issues that are complex, stubborn and entrenched. There is no quick fix and it is critical that these communities are engaged with and not ‘done to’. We are calling for the Government to take forward approaches based on mutuality where we can ensure all sections of society are listened to and valued. This must include genuine engagement with parents and carers as well as employers, third sector and importantly children and young people themselves.”

Achievement for All is calling for systemic change that ensures that disadvantaged, underachieving and vulnerable children are no longer left behind, including:

  • Increased recognition of parents, carers and wider communities as crucial to the improvement of learning and attainment for children and young people
  • A curriculum that is relevant and engaging for all children and young people, and which involves them fully
  • Evolving the targets set for social mobility to ensure all routes to achievement and employment are valued – spurious targets set by decision makers (such as university entry) often concern only 50% of the population at best
  • Greater focus on the continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and educational leaders based on the way disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils learn as well as those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • Increased cross-agency collaboration to reduce exclusions and minimise the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)
  • The gap for those who require SEND support to be narrowed with a focus on supporting middle attainers - too often a forgotten group

Early next year, the charity will launch its manifesto for change and the Every Child Included in Education coalition building upon collaborative work with Achievement for All’s community of professionals and families as well as business partners, third sector organisations, leading decision makers and educational leaders.

Blandford continues: “We will continue to champion and incubate, in partnership with our community and other leading sector organisations, best practice approaches that improve support, services and understanding for disadvantaged children and young people, whoever they are and wherever they live in the UK.

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that we need more great teachers in challenging areas. This is why we have partnered with TryTeaching to bring new and enthusiastic talent into the classroom and introduce them to pupils who experience daily disadvantages. This new graduate teaching initiative has been developed to help close the gaps in the UK’s education system and make a difference in schools that need it the most.

“Working to secure achievement for all is not an impossible goal. Since 2011, our independently evaluated programmes have reached 3.86 million people in England and Wales, impacting on one million children in over 4,500 settings, schools and colleges. We look forward to working with the Government and other leading organisations such as the EEF, to support their focus on ‘what works’ drawing on best practice from our award-winning Achieving Schools and Achieving Early programmes as well as sharing sector examples through the Every Child Included in Education coalition.”

Children and young people who experience disadvantage can lack confidence, find learning challenging, develop differently to others and participate less in society. The impact on their lives can be severe, with long-lasting effects on their wellbeing, relationships and future job prospects, as well as the wider community.

Department for Education 2017 data shows that last summer one in four children left primary school unable to read well meaning over 150, 000 children started secondary school in the autumn without the basic reading skills needed to access the curriculum.

For children growing up in low-income communities, the situation is worse; it is estimated that up to two in five children have difficulties with literacy. In response to this, Achievement for All has launched its 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, which will see a week dedicated to engaging children and young people with reading starting from Thursday 1st March 2018.

Further information on Achievement for All can be found at #everychildincluded.

Register for the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge at

Blandford’s provocative insider view of the working class ‘Born to Fail? Social Mobility: A Working Class View’ is available from


For more information, please contact: Laura Smith on / 07467945848 or / 07467945661.



About Achievement for All

  • Achievement for All is a leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with early years settings, schools and colleges, improving outcomes for all children and young people vulnerable to underachievement, regardless of their background, challenge or need
  • Achievement for All empowers young people, as well as their teachers, parents and carers, by working to transform lives through personal coaching, professional support, and a leading network of educational experts
  • Achievement for All programmes have been used in almost 4,500 schools, colleges, and early years settings to date, and have so far had a profound and measurable impact on the lives of more than 100,000 children and young people to date as well as their families and the adults that support them
  • In 2016, an independent assessment conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that as a result of Achievement for All’s Achieving Schools programme, the progress of targeted children and young people in reading, writing and mathematics was raised to a standard above the national expected level by up to 50%
  • Achievement for All’s 2015 Interim Evaluation Report identified a reduction in exclusion in schools and settings by a factor of four (400%)
  • In further reports on Achievement for All’s Achieving Early programme, it was identified that 100% practitioners reported higher levels of confidence in working with parents, and that personal, social and emotional assessments at age-expected levels rose from 23% to 73%
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