Delivering Education’s Progressive Promise: Using the Pupil Premium to Change Lives

In a keynote speech today Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg highlighting the extra investment the Government is putting in to schools to close the gap in the performance of children from poorer backgrounds.

Mr Clegg states that he wants to provide ” extra money for the most disadvantaged children in our schools. How can it be that in a modern, open society like ours a child’s destiny is still determined by their background? How can it be that, despite all the promise on a four or five year old’s first day at school, despite the passion and dedication of their teachers, too often you can plot that child’s path just by asking how much their parents earn?”

This is one of our great tasks, how to engage the parents who themselves were last to school.They have had a poor experience of education and subsequently have low expectations of the schooling system when it’s their children’s turn.

For once it was good to read positives about the role and qualities of teachers. In the same week that the Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw derided the profession whilst stating that it wasn’t a stressful job, Nick Clegg tended to disagree stating that it wasn’t just down to money, “we need teachers to help in this effort too – they’re the real experts”

Mr Clegg went further, highlighting a significant role that teachers play, or should play, in society: “Our teachers are the key to an open and fair society; the key to the opportunity Britain I am determined we build”

Disadvantaged children in our schools are our biggest challenge. I worked in a very challenging school for virtually all of my teaching, a conversation near the end of my first year with a student had a real impact on me. He asked if I was staying on the following year, when I asked why?, he said that all his good teachers kept leaving, he said he wanted to feel valued and have someone committed to working with him, he’d had a background of people leaving him. I made him a promise, a promise that I would stay to the end of his year 11, I kept that promise as he deserved a good committed teacher, one that wouldn’t look at the deprivation, the lack of commitment to education and give it my best.

Nick Clegg agrees, saying that he wants “every aspiring new teacher to see working with disadvantaged children as a crucial step to the top. An essential part of a successful and fulfilling career”

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