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Vital Signs North East: Education

Our ground-breaking study of the scale, dynamics and needs of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in North East England.

Education challenges

Philanthropy cannot plug funding gaps that statutory education services face. But it can enable civil society organisations to complement or enhance the system from pre-school to higher education and beyond. Charitable support can also help those with academic ability from all backgrounds, and fund less formal education provision that supports learning as an end in itself, or a way for people to understand and even change the world.

  • National challenges: early education provision, school budgets and teacher shortages, effect of pandemic on disadvantaged children and those with higher support needs; lower participation in higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds; squeeze on adult education.
  • North East England challenges: educational attainment gap significant and growing at GSCE and A levels; lowest proportion of voluntary sector early years providers in England; additional pressure on schools here including high levels of persistent absence; less progression to higher education.

Economic indicator North East England South East
% in reception year achieving early years expected levels 64.6 65.6 68.5
% GSCE grades 7/A and above 17.6 20.75 24.4
Progression rate into higher education 42.5% 46.8% 46.3%
Overall educational attainment in population (index higher = better) 2.767 2.831 2.881
% population with no qualifications 8 7 4.9
 % young people not in education, training or employment 4.7 2.8 2.5

Education opportunities

Despite the challenges there are a number of opportunities in North East England via:

  •  Schools do well on ‘distance travelled’ i.e. how pupils progress taking account of population, needs, free-school-meal eligibility etc.
  • Progress on improving vocational skills and qualification levels in the workforce.
  • Combined authorities and economic development bodies committed to working with public, private and voluntary sector to improve skills

The Community Foundation believes philanthropy can have the most impact in three areas:

Supporting civil society organisations to add value to, or fill gaps in, mainstream education and training:

  •  early years provision for disadvantaged families and communities
  • support for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • alternative education and vocational training for those at risk of being not in education, training or employment (NEET) after school
  • activities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access vocational and further and higher educational opportunities
  • capacity building to provide services under contract to benefit those excluded

Read the full report here

Contributing to raising levels of attainment and skills, closing the gap and supporting individuals at risk of exclusion:

  • partnerships between state schools, civil society organisations and educational charities (including independent schools)
  • additional support for disadvantaged high-attaining pupils to realise potential e.g. mentoring, equipment, tuition or homework clubs
  • support for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education experiencing financial and other hardship
  • routes for people at risk of exclusion or who lack qualifications to re-engage with education and training

Read the full report here

Promoting greater equity, diversity and inclusion in education and training, and supporting learning as a force for positive change in communities:

  • access to academic and vocational skills progression
  • campaigns to ensure pupils with SEND secure appropriate access to mainstream educational and vocational training provision
  • lifelong learning so people can be active members of their communities
  • help so they can and negotiate fair contracts and financing
  • support them to ensure economically marginalised people’s voices are heard

Read the full report here

Vital Signs Reports

The most recent reports from Vital Signs are here