Band of Hope - FED's inclusive approach
The Foundation for Education Development (the FED) has one aim – to promote education through a long-term lens.
Education empowers the individual, our communities and nations. The FED believes that a long term approach to education planning is crucial for countries to power their economies. Robust, relevant, inclusive education enables learners to be the best versions of themselves. It creates harmonious and productive communities and contributes to the wealth and the health of the nation. Successful countries place education at the centre of their strategic development.
The FED has, in July 2022, completed the biggest qualitative consultation of the English education system ever undertaken. Through this deep and structured consultation process we have examined the English education system in detail, and for the first time ever, published a draft blueprint for long-term strategic planning in education.
We have invested significant time and effort into being able to use digital means for consultation that elicit opinions and understandings to be unlocked. We call this FEDspace. It has powered much of our consultation practices over the past 18 months and enabled us to gain far greater reach across a full range of diverse stakeholders than would otherwise have been possible. It has truly been inclusive digital consultation in action.
Undertaken through a single, unified lens, the FED has continued to examine how long-term planning in our education system can benefit learners and a country as a whole. Further, and critically, how such an approach could solve the bigger challenges that we always seem to tweak around the edges but never get under the skin of. Inclusion is one such issue that cannot be tackled with short term interventions.
Our research showed that the pandemic shone a light on the geographic, economic and technological inequalities in the UK. Nowhere was this seen more clearly than in the education system. Here, the gap between those who do have and those who do not have was at its greatest with a desperate scramble in 2020 to put devices into the homes of our most deprived young people - just to allow them access to their education. Something that seemed such a basic entitlement to so many of us highlighted the digital divide of deprivation, where access to a device in the 21st century was not to be assumed and that instantly had to be provided. Again, parts of our society that are often the most vulnerable, most in need, waited for their delivery of a device to be able to access their learning whilst everyone else adapted to life in the digital sphere with relative ease. In the UK, 25% of vulnerable children still do not have access to a device equipped for digital learning due to personal or financial circumstances of their family.
A second fundamental element of access to digital learning is a reliable internet connection. Unfortunately, consistent broadband connection can be a ‘postcode lottery’, with more remote or rural areas often subject to poor or even non-existent internet connection, effectively cutting them off from the digital world. Throughout the pandemic, our children faced inadvertent exclusion from education and opportunity, they were left unable to contribute to or partake in a digital world. And still, the digital divide threatens to grow if urgent action is not taken.
Method and process has been important for the FED to find out what education stakeholders across the system truly believe. As a consequence, we have been able to build a rich knowledge and practice database that has powered research, and enabled future thinking. It is incredulous to believe that in the digital rich society we live in that a national long-term strategic planning framework for education can be found nowhere in the public domain. Indeed, such a thing has not been published until now. If you don’t believe me, try the ‘search engine test’.
How can it be that in 2022 when we know the value of long-term strategic planning in making businesses successful, we have not yet used this approach at scale for education?
Just imagine the power of this approach! A system that connects democracy, political ambition, business needs and professional practice. One that isn’t limited by systems and practice that have had their day; that have proved that going round in circles doesn’t take us far enough forward in the world that we now live. A system that empowers both the democratically elected politicians and the professionals that deliver practice and outcomes. The FED has evidence across a large body of stakeholders - including business and industry leaders, education practitioners and leaders, learners, parents and carers, former Ministers of State and senior civil servants, academics and researchers - that there is an enormous appetite for such a longer-term approach to education planning.
In a recent large scale multi stakeholder survey, this is what respondents told us about their desire for longer-term planning in education:
If a politician ever wanted to see evidence for a vote winner in a policy this is surely it!
The Foundation for Education Development
The Foundation for Education Development (FED) is a community interest company with the objectives of promoting the benefits, importance and understanding of a long-term vision and framework for education in England. We were founded in December 2019 and are an independent body. We recently launched our second National Education Consultation Report 2022 and the National Education Consultation Report 2022 Technical Annex provides a draft blueprint for strategic long-term education planning. To find out more about the FED, visit us at https://fed.education/
Carl Ward, Chief Executive, City Learning Trust
Carl is Chief Executive of the City Learning Trust; a 3 to 19 MAT in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire and Chair of the Foundation for Education Development. He has regional, national and international experience in leadership development and school to school improvement and has supported national and international projects and conferences for a range of organisations.
In a career that spans 26 years in teaching, 18 of them in senior leadership, Carl has worked in a range of schools and organisations across a number of settings. Further to this, Carl was ASCL President in 2017-2018 and between 2009 and 2011, formed part of the Prime Minister’s Talent & Enterprise Taskforce and has advised the Number 10 policy unit on several aspects of education.
Carl is Chair of the Careers and Enterprise Company’s Education Advisory Board and has previously been Chair for the Schools Cooperative Society and the Chartered College of Teaching’s trustee selection committee. He is a serving council member of the International Confederation of Principals, a member of the Global Education Leaders Partnership. In addition, Carl has been a member of the Education Funding Agency advisory board; DfE School and Academy Funding Group; Confederation of School Trust board and the European School Headteachers Association.
Most recently in 2020, Carl was recognised for his impact in education and named as a Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and as a Fellow of the Leadership Council at the Center for Universal Education, Brookings Institute, Washington DC.