Join the schools revolution – says Education Secretary

Posted on 8 Sep 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will today invite a gathering of the UK’s top business leaders to “play their part” and apply their experience and expertise to improving failing schools.

At a House of Lords reception, top industry experts will be encouraged to use their expertise to help transform young people’s life chances to extend the recent wave of school improvement that has “swept much of the nation”.

The Education Secretary also suggested that the finance and governance skills, and experience of business leaders would help to build on the Government’s mission to deliver real social justice by ensuring children in all areas and from all backgrounds have the opportunity of attending an excellent local school.

Since 2010, England’s education system has:

  • 1m more pupils are now in ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools
  • 100,000 more 6-year-olds are now on track to become confident readers
  • the number of young people leaving primary school able to read, write and add up properly has increased from 75% in 2012 to 80% in 2015
  • the level of 16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training at its lowest level since records began

Hosted by CEO of investment firm, ISAM and trustee of Ark Schools, Lord Fink, the event will encourage business experts and representatives from academy trusts across the country to consider the wide spectrum of ways they can work together to improve standards in schools.

Today’s event will highlight the importance of good governance in raising educational standards and business engagement in creating aspirational school leavers.

Alongside the need for greater business engagement arising from the government’s academies programme, the growth of chains and the challenge of tackling underperforming and coasting schools.

The 150 attendees will consist of business experts including existing and potential academy non-executive directors and chairs, representatives from academy sponsors and the Department for Education’s Regional Schools commissioners.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan commented: “There can be no more rewarding endeavour than applying a life’s experience and skills to transforming the life chances of children.

Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary.
Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary.

“Business leaders develop the know-how to tackle some of our society’s toughest problems and have the drive and energy to overcome challenges – qualities that translate directly to driving up standards in schools.

“Whether by founding or developing academy trusts, joining governing bodies to provide oversight and encouragement or providing careers advice and mentoring, I am today calling for more business leaders to play their part and join the schools revolution.”

Phil Jones OBE, president and CEO of Northern Powergrid, regional chairman of CBI Yorkshire and Humber, and newly-appointed trustee of Pontefract Academy Trust, added: “Even though it’s early days for me it’s been great to see that there really is scope for people with a business background to make a meaningful contribution to the way that education is delivered in our communities.

“I can already see that the advent of the academy trusts has opened up a much more significant opportunity for people like me to give something back.”

David Roper, trustee of E-Act academy trust and former co-founder and CEO of FTSE 100 engineering firm, Melrose PLC, said: “Having sat behind a desk for 40 years, I have found myself in a position where I have a strong team beneath me and had a little more time.

“I was looking to do something to “give something back”; I was approached by John Nash who told me about the Academy Ambassadors programme and now I am on the board of E-Act.

“It is a very interesting role, I am learning something completely new and I can offer support on finance and governance side.

“Coming from the private sector I was unsure what to expect from the trust but I have been so impressed by the quality, professionalism and dedication of all of the people I have met and worked with.”